Bad news in Berkeley this morning: 52-year-old Italian restaurant Giovanni has suffered a major fire. According to Berkeleyside, the blaze started at about 6 am this morning, and while firefighters were able to tame it, they had to cut open walls and the restaurant's roof, causing what Berkeley Fire Department deputy chief Avery Webb said could be as much as $100,000 in damage. Firefighters also had to close down the southbound section of Shattuck Avenue for about an hour and a half as they quelled the blaze. It's still unclear what caused the fire, though it's believed to have started in the vicinity of the flue of a chimney or heater; the fire department said they saw no signs of suspicious activity.
Founded in 1963, Giovanni has been a fixture on Shattuck for its pasta and pizza offerings, and despite some bumps in the road (namely issues with back taxes owed to the IRS, which nearly shuttered it in 2013), married owners Giovanni and Anna Schipani had been on fairly solid footing. The restaurant is a family business: the couple's daughters, Anastasia and Sarah, also work there. It's unclear how much damage Giovanni has sustained or when it will reopen, but expect more news on that front soon.