Roughly 15-foot-tall flames roared over Satchel’s Pizza on Monday night, destroying the iconic Gainesville restaurant’s outdoor seating area and gift shop, known as Lightnin’ Salvage Enterprises.
No injuries were reported, as the building, located at 1800 NE 23rd Ave., was emptied hours earlier.
The incident is currently under investigation, said JoAnne Rice, the Gainesville Fire Rescue deputy fire chief.
GFR first received calls about the fire at about 9:22 p.m. from several passersby, and firefighters put the flames out at about 10 p.m., Rice said.
By 11 p.m., firefighters were still cutting through the tin roof of the building and putting out hotspots so the fire wouldn’t rekindle.
Martha Moore, the owner of the Ole Barn bar across the street, looked on as the fire raged for about half an hour.
Her thoughts immediately went to Satchel Raye, the owner of the restaurant, four years after a kitchen fire caused between $150,000 and $200,000 in damages.
“It was horrific,” she said. “My heart broke for Satchel Raye to start with because they had just got going again, so it really broke my heart. Their employees are friends of ours,” she said.
Danny Lore, 45, the bar manager at Satchel’s, received a call from Raye and rushed over.
“It’s before Christmas, you know, it’s my livelihood,” he said, shaking his head.
After 10 years working for Raye, Monday night was the second fire he’s experienced.
The first fire broke out in the kitchen at Satchel’s on Feb. 28, 2012, forcing the evacuation of 25 customers, according to Alligator archives.
That fire caused flooding and damaged an air-conditioning unit and the roof of the building.
The 2012 fire closed the restaurant for three and a half months, according to Alligator archives.
A burned pizza from the first fire was enshrined in one of the restaurant’s clear-top tables.
The patio area was marked by recycled artwork and quirky seating spaces including a greenhouse and tree house.
Rice said the recycled material may have caused the fire to spread quicker.
“Something like that will go up rather quickly,” she said.
The tin roof of Lightnin’ Salvage sits in pieces as firefighters search the area for hotspots on Monday evening. The main dining room was not touched by the fire.