A month after fire, East Avenue restaurant not sure when they will reopen

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – The future of Veneto Wood Fire Pizza and Pasta is still up in the air, one month after a major fire destroyed the popular East Avenue Italian Restaurant. News10NBC talked to the Don Swartz, the restaurant’s General Manager to get an update on the rebuilding of the restaurant.

Swartz says in order for the restaurant to reopen again it’s going to need some extensive work rebuilding it from the ground up.

“We’re waiting for the insurance company to clear the site so we can come in, and begin cleaning,” said Swartz.

In the early morning hours of January 4, a major fire destroyed parts of Veneto Restaurant in the city’s East End. Swartz showed News10NBC the damage left behind by the fire that’s still under investigation.

“At first they thought it was something in our washer and dryer, which we use to do the linens, and that made sense. There’s dryer fires probably every day in this country,” said Swartz.

It’s believed to have started in the chef’s prep area in the back half of the restaurant. Although fire officials immediately ruled out arson, and negligence on anyone’s part, they came up with another probable start for the fire.

“Now they found some arching in some of the wires up above the drop ceiling,” said Swartz.

He says the main dining area was spared by the flames, but did suffer heavy smoke, and water damage. The smell of burnt wood still permeates the air in the restaurant. Swartz is waiting for the insurance company to finish its paperwork.

“As soon as we get the green light to go, you know we want to get going. In the meantime we’re making preparations lining up contractors, and get what we need in line so we can start the process to try to get opened,” said Swartz.

Since the back half of the restaurant suffered extensive damage, Swartz has plan for that space.

“If the back half has to come down, we might be able to put a little garden back there, or terrace kind of seating. So we’ll do something a little different. Something a little cool downtown. Something different,” said Swartz.

Since the fire, many loyal customers continue to get their favorite Italian dishes at Veneto’s Buffalo Road location. 

“We’ve seen a lot of our customers that have come deep in the East Side, all the way into Gates to support us. So we appreciate that,” said Swartz.

The fire not only affected the restaurant, but also several apartments above it as well. Everyone made it out safely. Swartz say it can take up to eight months to rebuild the restaurant.