Davis fire officials credit a well-functioning sprinkler system and swift firefighting tactics for stopping the spread of a fire inside the former Bistro 33 restaurant in downtown Davis.
The Davis Fire Department is investigating the cause of the second-alarm blaze, which broke out shortly before 5 p.m. Monday at the vacant 226 F St. building that’s set to become an Italian restaurant next summer.
“The origin of the fire was on the Third Street side, two to three feet inside the arched doorway there,” Battalion Chief Roland Pussich said, referring to the area that once served as Bistro 33’s reception area.
Pussich said the fire burned about 50 square feet of building content in that area and extended “a bit” into the attic area above, which required fire crews to cut holes into the roof for ventilation.
“The ventilation and our quick attack really kept it at bay,” Pussich said, noting that the building’s fire sprinkler system activated prior to crews’ arrival. Other than damage to the roof and attic, “the whole structure is fine.”
No injuries resulted from the incident, during which Davis firefighters received assistance from the UC Davis Fire Department. Woodland and West Sacramento crews initially were summoned to the scene but were released prior to arrival, Pussich said.
The historic F Street building, which previously served as the Davis Fire Department, Davis City Hall and the Davis Police Department over the years, housed the popular Bistro 33 for 17 years until its closure in April 2020.
Davis Enterprise columnist Wendy Weitzel reported last month that the 8,000-square-foot space will be filled by an eatery called Mamma, offering “affordable, fresh, customizable pasta, pizzas and salads, and an Italian specialty market inspired by Dean & DeLuca.
“But here’s the best part: co-owner Michael Galyen lives in Napa but grew up in Davis. He built the concept with Napa chef Arnaud Drouvillé, who has worked for several Michelin-starred restaurants across the globe. Drouvillé grew up in France, but his family is from Southern Italy,” Weitzel reported.
The pair announced plans to open Mamma in June, as their lease requires a July opening, according to Weitzel. Engstrom Properties owns the building.
Reached by phone Tuesday morning, Galyen had plans for a virtual walk-through of the building later in the morning, followed by an in-person viewing on Wednesday. However, “from what it sounds like, the damage was not that extensive,” he said.
“We’re changing the majority of the inside anyway,” including repainting and resurfacing work, Galyen said. “I don’t think this delays us. We’re doing it, and nothing’s going to slow us down.”
Galyen hopes to learn more this week about the suspected cause of the fire, noting that power to the building had been turned off, seemingly barring an electrical cause.
Both he and Pussich said the blaze appeared originate around a pile of dismantled seating booths that recently had been removed from the onetime bar area.
Now scorched, the booths sat on and around the former Bistro’s fire pit Tuesday morning, near a stretch of yellow caution tape, as fire investigators began their work.