At around 10pm Saturday night, Paolo’s Ristorante on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and N Street NW caught on fire. I happened to be sitting across the street having a drink at Martin’s Tavern, when I noticed black smoke billowing out the back roof of the restaurant; shortly thereafter we saw flames. At the time, Paolo’s was in full swing, packed with diners and DCers prepping for a night out. Two fire engines promptly appeared and the small blaze was adeptly extinguished–it took about an hour or so, for the whole operation to be over. It was very cool to see the DCFD is full action. This included two ladders in operation, hooks pulling down flaming debris, and multiple fire extinguishers. I even spotted a female firefighter. Yeh, chick, represent!
From my vantage point, the fire was not very big and most likely started in the kitchen at the back of the restaurant. It looked to be near some sort of chimey-esque vent. Given the fire’s size and location, and the fast response of the DCFD, I assumed everyone (staff and patrons) got out OK. This conjecture was furthered when I walked by Paolo’s at 1:30am and saw the staff sitting at the restaurant’s bar having drinks and chilling out. When it’s 11pm on a Saturday night and your workplace, which happens to be a bar, closes unexpectedly, what else should you do besides grab a drink, enjoy the weather and hit up the nightlife?
This is not the first time in recent years that Paolo’s has had fire problems. In the spring of 2006, an electrical fire in the offices above Paolo’s caused significant damage and led to a $500,00 remodeling of the restaurant by it’s owners Capital Restaurant Concepts. This is one of the reasons why the stores near Paolo have hired fire watch guard services as the imminent threat of the fire emerging is still not dormant. As of last night, Paolo’s is closed. For how long is TBD.