SEMINOLE HEIGHTS — Brian Bosco got the call from the landlord at about 2:30 a.m.
He jumped out of bed and rushed to his restaurant, Domani Bistro Lounge, about a mile from his house. But when he got there, the flames already were shooting high above the roof.
“It was like watching somebody kill your child,” Bosco said this morning, standing in front of what is left of the popular restaurant.
A fire caused by an electrical malfunction in Domani’s walk-in freezer destroyed the building and severely damaged much of the adjacent furniture store, A Modern Line at 6421 N. Florida Ave., Tampa Fire Rescue officials said. No one was injured.
The Fire Marshal deemed the restaurant building, worth an estimated $500,000, a total loss. The contents of the building were estimated to be worth an additional $300,000.
Fire crews arrived just before 2 a.m. today and found heavy smoke and flames coming from the rear of the building. Firefighters entered the restaurant but had to evacuate after the building became unstable and portions of the roof collapsed. It took more than 60 firefighters two hours to get the blaze under control, officials said.
Crews were forced to bring in a crane to break down much of the front wall of the Modern Line building and bulldozers to start clearing the debris that piled up into Florida Avenue. Police closed the road in both directions from Hanna Avenue to Lambright Street but reopened it around noon.
Fire officials allowed Bosco and his business partner, Bernardo Agostino, to go into the office for about two minutes, but everything was gone, Bosco said.
Modern Line owner David Call stood across the street, watching crews take down part of the building where his store rented space. “We’re trying to get in to try and save as much of the furniture as we can,” Call said. “The longer it sits in the water, the worse it will be. I guess we’ll just wait, and then find a new place to try and get going again.”
Domani Bistro Lounge opened in 2012 and offered a menu of cocktails and fusion food with an Italian flair. The partners invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the restaurant, said Agostino, who also owns the Soho Tavern in South Tampa.’
Bosco has been preparing to launch the Red Star Rock Bar nearby at 5210 N. Florida Ave., and expects the bar to open in late March, he said. After that, he and Agostino will focus on repairing and reopening Domani.
“It sucks,” he said. “We’ll try and rebuild, but who knows what’s going to happen.”
Domani is one in a long line of popular eateries to open in the burgeoning Seminole Heights restaurant scene, following other establishments such as Ella’s Americana Folkart Cafe and The Refinery.
The neighborhood has been experiencing a “renaissance,” thanks largely to locally-owned eateries like Domani, said Debi Johnson, president of the Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association.
She said the neighborhood already is thinking of ways to raise money and help the owners.
“It’s a blow,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, they’ll be able to re-open and stay in Seminole Heights.”