By Colleen Sparks
Babbo Italian Eatery in North Central Phoenix will likely be closed for a few more months after a fire caused extensive damage to the building.
The restaurant at 6855 N. 16th St. has been closed since a fire ravaged the structure in the shopping center slightly south of Glendale Avenue on April 28. The blaze ignited outside the building in the utility area, said Ken Pollack, owner of the 16th Street restaurant, as well as the seven other Babbo Italian Eatery eateries in the Valley.
“The damage is extensive,” Pollack said. “It quickly spread through the utility area and then caught the gas meter. Once it hit the gas meter, the whole building went up. All parts of the roof have to be replaced, that whole side of the building. All electrical and gas lines have to be replaced. Everything’s going to have to be replaced.”
Smoke and water also damaged the building, which Babbo rents. The restaurant had to wait until the building owner fixed the outside of the building before it could start repairing the inside, Pollack explained. He had said he expected he would get the permit from the city of Phoenix to start improving the inside of the building by the end of July.
Pollack was on vacation for his anniversary with his wife when he got a call from the restaurant’s general manager telling him about the fire. The fire began at 1:30 a.m. and it is believed a homeless person might have started the blaze, but police and the fire department are investigating, Pollack said. A video camera at another restaurant in the shopping center captured the fire.
Babbo’s catering services are still available for North Central Phoenix customers, as food is prepped and delivered from another location.
Employees at the North Central Babbo have been working at the other restaurants in the Valley, all owned by Pollack and his family.
Pollack expects the Babbo on 16th Street will reopen in November. Many customers have e-mailed him and his family expressing their support. Babbo offers classic Italian meals and modern Italian-American cuisine and opened the 16th Street spot about 10 years ago.
“It’s a very good area,” Pollack said. “It’s a popular corner, a very good store for us. We have regular clientele that eat there all the time so we’re excited about getting reopened. We just really appreciate the community support.”
For updates, visit www.facebook.com/BabboItalianEatery.