A fire broke out at Francesca’s Restaurant and Pizzeria in Hampton Bays late Saturday night, according to Southampton Town Police.
The fire alarm came in at 12:04 a.m., and Hampton Bays firefighters, who are headquartered about two blocks away from the Ponquogue Avenue business, responded within one minute of receiving the call. No injuries were reported, though the restaurant is expected to be closed for at least the next month due to the damage.
Southampton Town Fire Marshal John Rankin said the fire started above the ceiling in the pizzeria’s kitchen, although what sparked the blaze remains a mystery. “We don’t have a definitive cause at this point yet, but the fire is not believed to be suspicious,” he said.
Mutual aid was provided by the East Quogue, Southampton and Flanders fire departments, and the flames were knocked down relatively quickly. Firefighters had to pull apart much of the ceiling in order to make sure the flames were completely extinguished, Mr. Rankin said.
Though the fire was contained to the ceiling, the restaurant—which recently reopened following an extensive remodeling—is now expected to be closed for another three or four weeks, according to Mark Caltabiano, who owns the business.
Mr. Caltabiano said he worked until 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and the last employee left at around 11:30. Shortly after midnight he got a call from his security system notifying him that several smoke detectors had been activated.
Mr. Caltabiano said he rushed back to the restaurant and was shocked to see smoke billowing out of his business, though he was grateful for the speedy response of firefighters.
“Thank God for the Hampton Bays Fire Department and the police for their quick response,” he said. “They really saved our whole building with minimal interior damage. It’s just lucky no one got hurt.”
Mr. Caltabiano added that he was thankful it happened so late, when no one was in the restaurant and few cars were on the road.
The restaurant, which has been in business since 1988, was renovated earlier this year and was closed for several weeks.
On Francesca’s Facebook page, restaurant staff members notified the community about the fire and Mr. Caltabiano said he was heartened by the outpouring of support both on social media and to him directly, adding that is has helped get him through this “traumatizing” experience.
“I’ve been really pleased with the community outpouring of support,” he said. “People have been posting on Facebook and sending me text messages ever since it happened.”
Staff writer Shaye Weaver contributed to this story.