Do you know that scene from My Cousin Vinny where Lisa is going on about her biological clock and Vinny is all, “… my career, your life, our marriage, and let me see, what else can we pile on? Is there any more SHIT we can pile on to the top of the outcome of this case? Is it possible?”

I’m trying not to get like Vinny. And I won’t let myself.

As you may have heard by now, Las Velas caught fire early Wednesday morning, they tell me at 1:30 in the morning or so. This is hours after closing so fortunately, no employees were in the building at the time.

I was laying in bed that morning, getting ready to get up to go rent a car as mine is still in the pound from my accident as we wait for the other driver’s insurance company to accept liability, which can’t happen until the other driver STOPS IGNORING HER INSURANCE COMPANY’S PHONE CALLS, when I saw a text from Mike/Woy/Woycheck mentioning he’d heard a fire broke out above Mancini’s, which would be Las Velas no? I froze. Then I saw that he had sent another text that it must have been a different building and wasn’t Las Velas after all.

I told my husband, laying next to me and he had a mini-stroke and was all, “WHAT? Don’t scare me like that, woman.”

We had a chuckle and went about our morning. Hours later, I was nearly downtown as I had a meeting near the Consol when my phone rang and it was my husband calling me from home informing me that he’d just been told it was our restaurant that had caught fire. His manager was there now. Windows were blown out.

That? Is a weird thing to hear. Can’t really describe it. Numbness. I think I said about seven times, “Our restaurant? Las Velas? OUR RESTAURANT LAS VELAS CAUGHT FIRE?! YOU ARE TELLING ME THAT LAS VELAS CAUGHT FIRE?”

I of course blew past my meeting location and shot down Fifith Avenue, headed straight for Market Square.

Inside the restaurant, contractors were sweeping up the glass after having already boarded up the windows, and I could see up near the air vents black soot lining the walls.

I was told it started in the office, so I wanted to see it.

The manager said, “Ginny. It’s bad, okay? Be careful.”

Perhaps he meant be careful as you step on any glass, or watch out for falling objects, but I think he meant, “It’s bad. Brace yourself.”

It’s bad.

The office is a burnt out box of blackness. There were black blobs of things in the middle of the floor, I couldn’t even tell you what they were before the fire.

The kitchen is partially destroyed and open to the heavens now.

I fell into the arms of the manager and wept.

The thing is, this restaurant was remodeled and rebuilt and opened by the sweat, tears and blood of my husband. He didn’t hire a contractor or a crew. He and his brother and friend went in every morning for three months and worked from dawn until midnight on every single thing. Every tile, they laid. Every wall, they painted, except for the amazing wall murals my cousin did. Every faucet, they installed. Every light fixture, they hung.

To see so much of it damaged, it just felt like his dream literally went up in flames. I kept saying over and over again, “All his hard work. All his hard work. ALL. HIS. HARD. WORK.” That’s all I could think of as I stared at the black chaos before me and above me and crunching under me. Nine years he worked to be able to open his own restaurant. I mourned that in that moment. I continue to mourn it. I imagine Bryan Adams wondered why the curly haired girl in Row B burst into tears halfway through his concert last night.


I’m okay. My husband is okay. My children are okay. That’s what matters and that’s what I’ll cling to while we go through this time of uncertainty and we’ll stay positive no matter what and remind ourselves that things could be worse, which is true. Remember my car accident? LOL. What a tiny little nothing that was.

As it stands, the fire was ruled to likely have started at an outlet in the office and spread angrily from there.

We are insured and we’ll know more in the next week how that insurance will help us get the restaurant back up and running in the near future, hopefully better than ever.  There’s a lot to be done. I can’t even describe to you how stubbornly pervasive smoke is. It seeps into every surface. We took a cell phone charger wire from the restaurant today. Brought it home. Wiped it down. An hour later, it smelled like smoke again. Magic.

I appreciate the offers of support and help that have been pouring in to both me and David and my parents.

I’m going to take it easy through the weekend, but I wanted to let you know that I will still be attending Sewickley Herald photographer Kristina Serafina’s show at Gallery -30- in Sewickley tomorrow, because she is donating proceeds from the show to Make Room for Kids, and I refuse to let a jerk-faced ball of fire keep me from supporting her desire to help SICK KIDS.

See you then perhaps.

And again, thanks for the love. It is an enormous comfort to me to know that should I need it, there’s a waiting net to fall on to.


  1. jmarie
    December 4, 2010 11:07 pm

    PaGirl in VA.

    Email me. I work for a local bank. maybe we can get something rolling if you tell me what i have to do and direct me…………

  2. PA Girl in VA
    December 5, 2010 12:04 am

    @Elmer, yes I read about the gift certificates and agree that they are a GREAT way to support Las Velas. However, that still requires waiting for action from Ginny or David while they have their hands full with bigger fish and still leaves them and their employees in the lurch for the time being as we lead up to the holidays.

    @jmarie – I’ll send you an email shortly.

    BTW, I’m not bashing anyone’s offer of help – I know that Ginny’s readers would do anything for her, just as she would do anything for someone else in need (as she often does). I’m just trying to think of ways for us to take action without having to ask Ginny to take the lead.

  3. Elmer Fudd
    December 5, 2010 1:04 am

    Pa. Girl..I see your point..I was just looking at helping to get the business back up and money rolling in so that they can get their lives back to normal..But I agree that help is in order until that happens..Ginny is the most caring and giving person I have ever met..I just hope she allows us to be like her..Even if it is just for this one thing..

  4. bob
    December 5, 2010 1:05 am

    sad to hear about your restaurant, all your pittsburgh fans will get yins through this.

  5. Leigh Anne
    December 6, 2010 2:11 am

    So very sorry to hear about this. I’m not a Burgher by birth or by current location, but have no doubt I would love this place.
    Much love to you as you rebuild and rest assured, when you’re back, I’ll be there with as many of my fam as I can bring. Heck, we’ll make a special trip from KY for the grand re-opening!!

    Love to you guys in this tough time.

    And though it means less than it would have, at least we beat the GD Ravens!!!

  6. Butcher's Dog
    December 6, 2010 9:09 am

    If Ginny can move on to “normal” life, I’m nominating the WTRT for “There But For The Grace of God” title this week. Anyone out there who would have felt comfortable seeing Jeff Reed in punt formation three or four times, please raise your hands. Yeah…that’s what I thought. And even though athletic feats don’t diminish moral and ethical shortcomings, I hope the Cut-Ben, Trade-Ben crowd will at least reflect on where we’d be this morning if either of those two things had actually happened. Maybe association with Suisham will improve Ben’s behavior.

  7. Pingback: What Happened Last Week in Boring Pittsburgh

  8. Jess
    December 6, 2010 12:25 pm

    Oh no, I am sorry to hear this news. :( Just what you didn’t need on top of the car. I’ll be sure to keep you in my prayers that things are looking brighter soon.

    Take care.

  9. Kathy
    December 6, 2010 3:01 pm

    so sorry… I was wondering why you weren’t posting… don’t do twitter. :(

    Yes, if something gets organized for the employees and you, let us know! Never even been to Pittsburgh, even though I’m a Pirates fan. But I love your blog so I’d like to help.

  10. Rusty
    December 7, 2010 1:07 pm

    There you’ve gone and ruined our “Margarita Planning Session” scheduled for next Fri. where we were going to map out our DC to PGH (because why would you ride the other direction), bicycle ride next Sept.
    We hope everything turns out well, and we look forward to the new ‘Las Velas’ opening soon!
    Let us know if we can help. Its time to let some of us help you now.

  11. Michele
    December 11, 2010 1:45 am

    To your husband:
    Lo siento mucho. Aunque vivimos aqui no supe del incendio hasta este momento. Les desea animos la esposa gringa (per mexicana adoptiva) de un chilango.