Though Alice Waters was initally optimistic that she could have Chez Panisse's upstairs cafe back online by March 23, she's now pushing back the reopening to at least March 30, according to the Contra Costa Times. Reconstruction on the porch that was destroyed in the March 7 fire is already underway, but workers were mum on what, if anything, might change. Even if the restaurant does reopen March 30, the porch will likely take several more months to be restored to its former glory.
Meanwhile, the Berkeley Fire Department has yet to name an official cause for the blaze, but spokesman Avery Webb said that it was likely an electrical problem with some equipment under the porch, echoing the statement Waters made on the day of the fire that "an electrical fire broke out under the front porch of the downstairs dining room." We'll have more info on the official reopening date as it approaches.
Update, 12:48 pm: Inside Scoop reports that the 120-person Chez Panisse staff met in a nearby park yesterday to discuss their plans for getting the restaurant back on its feet. The damage was more extensive than the team initially thought, and right now, they're targeting April 15 as a reopening date. (They may try to push for April 1 if they can, as it's the anniversary of the cafe's opening.) The restaurant and cafe will likely reopen together, though there is a possibility the cafe will open first.
Meanwhile, original builder Kip Mesirow has flown in from the East Coast to help get the porch construction underway, and maitre d' Steve Crumley, who moonlights as an arborist, is working to save the wisteria tree Waters planted in honor of her friend Tom Guernsey, which was also damaged in the fire.
· Berkeley's Chez Panisse begins rebuilding, pushes back reopening date [Contra Costa Times]
· Chez Panisse fire update: 'We have a very ambitious time ahead of us' [Inside Scoop]
· Fire Hits Chez Panisse; Waters Hopes to Reopen 'Soon' [~ ESF ~]