The boiler in the basement of Empanada Mama in Hell's Kitchen caught on fire on Sunday morning at around 8:45 a.m. The blaze destroyed the restaurant on the first floor, but thankfully, no one was injured. Empanada Mama's assistant manager Stuart Bragg hit the building's alarms as soon as the he detected the fire. Bragg tells the Post: "There was smoke that seemed to be coming out of the boiler room....A few minutes went by and smoke came billowing out from the stairs." The check-cashing store next door was also damaged in the fire.
The firefighters initially had trouble locating hydrants on the block because they were buried under mounds of snow. After finding a hydrant that was poking out of the snow across the street, the members of the FDNY were able to put out the blaze in a few hours. Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora notes: "We really like to make sure the city residents — if they can help us out — start digging out those hydrants and the units will do the same thing....That would really help." A neighbor caught the entire incident on video.
Thank you everybody!! we will be back soon, you can always find us at our LES location or order online at https://t.co/WEgKdGy2Hu— Empanada Mama (@EmpanadaMamaNYC) January 25, 2016
The management hopes to reopen the restaurant at some point. The team also has another outpost on the Lower East Side at 95 Allen Street. Empanada Mama had a location on the same block as Katz's for several years, but the owners were forced to relocate to Allen Street to make way for a new condo.