On Wednesday morning, when Lisa Nardelli entered the Tune Inn, the Capitol Hill dive bar that her grandfather opened in 1947, the owner thought it resembled a town along the Mississippi River this spring.
“Initially when I walked in, it looked like the whole place was flooded,” she told All We Can Eat. But after clean-up crews were done following Wednesday morning’s kitchen fire, she realized that she and her family had actually escaped disaster.
Her grandfather’s hunting trophies, her father’s fishing trophies and even Nardelli’s own deer trophy were still intact and undamaged. So was the rest of the memorabilia in the historic bar, which holds one of the first 500 liquor licenses issued by the District of Columbia following Prohibition. Nardelli breathed a sigh of relief, since the stuff was irreplaceable.
The serious damage — aside from the windows busted out by firefighters — was limited to the kitchen, where the fire started near the deep fryer, said Pete Piringer, the chief spokesman for the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department. The accidental fire, Piringer added, apparently started after employees turned on equipment in the kitchen.
Nardelli told AWCE that she had bought a new deep fryer in the kitchen, but noted it was too early to know if that was the cause. She noted, however, that whatever the cause, the kitchen is a goner.
“We’ll have to gut the kitchen,” she said. “That’s the only way I’d be able to get a new kitchen. You have to look on the bright side of this.”
All the equipment will need to be replaced and the space rebuilt, a process that will take time, Nardelli said. “We’ll do our best to get it up and running as soon as possible.”
In the meantime, Nardelli said, insurance will cover the Tune Inn’s lost revenues while it’s closed, and the owners will use that to pay full-time employees during this fallow period. As for tipped employees, Nardelli plans to host a fundraiser to help cover their incomes. Judging by the show of support on Tune Inn’s Facebook page, the dive shouldn’t have much trouble raising the cash.