Chattanooga's Food Works working to reopen following fire

Chattanooga's Food Works working to reopen following fire

July 1st, 2014 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

Food Works kitchen employee Matt Thompson uses a floor shampoo machine to clean the cold prep kitchen downstairs in the former knitting mill building on Manufacturer's Road on Monday. The business had a weekend fire in a hood vent.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Site of fire at Food Works in Chattanooga.

Site of fire at Food Works in Chattanooga.

Illustration by Laura McNutt /Times Free Press.

Caution tape is wrapped around the door and a sign telling customers the business is closed is posted on the window Sunday at FoodWorks after an early-morning fire.

Caution tape is wrapped around the door and...

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

Food Works is down but not out.

Head chef Jeremy Allin said it's too early to tell when the popular North Chattanooga restaurant will reopen, but things aren't as bad as they first seemed to be following a Sunday morning kitchen fire.

The blaze has temporarily closed the restaurant on Manufacturers Road.

"There's not a lot of damage other than smoke. It wasn't that bad," Allin said. Initial TV news reports, he said, "made it sound like the place burned to the ground."

The fire started at 2:50 a.m., the Chattanooga Fire Department said in a news release, and it took several fire companies about 20 minutes to get it under control.

The fire started at a stove in the kitchen on the main floor, Allin said, and flames went up a ventilation shaft. Firefighters sprayed water on the roof from a ladder truck, Allin said, and tore open a wall on the restaurant's second floor to reach the ventilation shaft.

The fire's cause was still under investigation Monday.

In the meantime, the staff is busy cleaning up.

"They're not out of work," Allin said. "They've got plenty of stuff to do."

The fire and smoke didn't affect Knitting Mill Antiques, a 100-booth antique mall that shares the turn-of-the-century brick building with Food Works.

"People came in [Sunday morning] and were surprised we were here," said RiverCity Realty President S. Scott Short, who co-owns the historic building.

He predicted it wouldn't be long before the restaurant reopens.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree or Omarzu or 423-757-6651.

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