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.”
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.