Yesterday morning (July 26), a fire broke out at 261 South 17th Street, the address of Rittenhouse's Italian BYOB Branzino. According to a report by Philly.com, the fire, coupled with a purported break-in, forced owner Luan Tota to close his thirteen-year-old restaurant for at least a week. A note from the owner was posted onto the restaurant's website:
Something terrible happened to our restaurant, the building was on fire.
We had a few damages that we have to repair before we can reopen again, as off now we will be closed until future notice.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
You can contact us through the contact form in the website, our phone is not working for now.
We will be in touch as soon as we can and we will make sure the place will be running as strong as it was.
To those who might be thinking Soprano's-style fire-for-insurance-money, a commentor already tried that: ProfessorThisCentury writes, "Sounds more like an insurance fire to possible help settle his unpaid tax debts. Remember the place raided by the IRS not too terribly long ago" to which the article's author responds: "No charges filed. That was two years ago."
Then a "current employee" under the online-moniker Al, jumps in to confirm:
I cannot believe how people jump into conclusion so fast.
First and for most no one got hurt thank god!
Second we have zero problems with IRS!
Third everyone has put sweat and long hours to this place and it was not fair to no one for this to happen.
Branzino was home to all of us and it will be home again once everything get fixed!
Everyone is devastated and is a total tragedy.
No matter how food is no one deserves this to happen! Is a crime!
People in Philadelphia are used to mediocre food that has no soul, only aperence.
You cannot kill someones home and is okay with you because is not up to yours standards.
Terrible tragedy? Of course. Philly being used to soulless, mediocre food? No way.