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Monday, May 23, 2022

Employees’ spirits high after Satchel’s fire

One day after a fire engulfed the kitchen at Satchel’s Pizza, owner Satchel Raye said he’s hopeful about rebuilding.

He guessed Tuesday night the restaurant would be closed for about six weeks.

“I feel better today,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “Looking at it today and all the help we had come in here, I’d say a month. Tomorrow I could feel different.”

The fire that started in the kitchen Tuesday night forced the evacuation of 25 customers.

Raye said heat from the ovens dried out the wooden studs in the corner of the kitchen. The studs got hot enough to ignite, and flames started burning inside the wall in the space between the bricks and the outside wall.

Gainesville Fire Rescue was able to stop the fire before it damaged the rest of the building, but water from the fire hoses left the dining room flooded and debris everywhere.

The kitchen, including the ovens and a day-old air conditioning unit, is ruined.

Raye said he couldn’t be sure about the cost of the damages until he talked to an insurance agent, but he estimated it would take $25,000 to $40,000 to repair the restaurant.

“It was pretty rough this morning because it was in the light of day and all the adrenaline and craziness of last night had worn off,” he said. “I had a pretty good cry.”

Raye said his spirits were lifted Wednesday morning when all of his employees came back to help haul the soggy flotsam and jetsam from inside the restaurant to the Dumpster.

Raye will speak with insurance adjusters and contractors in the coming days.

The restaurant’s insurance doesn’t cover all the food that spoiled after the fire, and it might not cover the kitchen equipment, Raye said. The building is covered.

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Satchel’s employees will go on unemployment, but it might not be enough to tide them over until Satchel’s re-opens, he said.

He wants to set up a Kickstarter campaign where people can donate money to offset employees’ income while Satchel’s rebuilds.

Satchel’s server Jen Garrity, 37, said she and many of her coworkers are grateful for the outpouring of support from students and Gainesville residents.

“I feel like I’m working at the right kind of restaurant,” she said.

Contact Erin Jester at

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