Black Friday got off to a tumultuous start in Berkeley this year, as firefighters were called to a series of fires inside the 30-year-old Mandarin Garden restaurant. The first fire broke out sometime after midnight on Friday, Berkeleyside reports. According to Berkeley Fire Departments Battalion Chief Brian Harryman, the fire was deemed a first-alarm and extinguished by 3 a.m.
However, that was only the beginning as a second blaze erupted around 5:15 a.m., prompting a two-alarm fire in the same location. According to Harryman, the second fire started in different part of the building, separate from the first— this one caused evacuations from neighboring buildings and succeeded in truly destroying the restaurant. Luckily, no injuries were reported in the fire, although Deputy Fire Chief Donna McCracken said that the family who owned the restaurant lived in an apartment above the now-destroyed restaurant.
In addition to Mandarin Garden, the fire seriously damaged a soon-to-open restaurant called Venus Café, set to open in the former Ichiban space next door. According to co-owner Peter Kwong, the extensive damage from smoke and water will take months to repair; the restaurant had planned to open sometime next week.
Stay tuned for more information on reopening (and opening) plans for Mandarin Garden and Venus Café.