The popular Crown Street nightclub BAR reopened its dance floor Thursday night after having been closed for two weeks due to a fire that left parts of the building damaged.
BAR business manager Frank Patrick said the nightclub, which some BAR employees originally said could take months to repair, reopened much sooner than he had expected. The club suffered extensive damage to its roof and top floor after contractors working on the roof accidentally set fire to one of the rafters, New Haven Fire Marshal Joe Cappucci said last week. BAR managers credited the dedication of the club’s employees and neighbors for the speed of the repairs.
“Based on the damage, a lot of people thought they were going to be out of work for months and months,” Patrick said. “[But] we worked nonstop for the past two weeks to make this happen.”
Patrick said the club’s restaurant, located at the front of the building, did not suffer extensive damage from the fire and opened earlier this week. But he said the dance floor, including expensive sound and light equipment used during concerts, was seriously damaged from smoke and water.
Several BAR employees said they were pleasantly surprised by how soon the club reopened.
“Nobody knew what to expect,” waitress Nicole Susa said. “There were so many rumors going around, and we were hearing different things from different people. Everyone was pretty shocked and worried.”
To hasten the reopening of the club, General Manager Danielle Ginnetti said the club enlisted the help of its more than 70 employees, several of whom were left without paychecks after the fire. The owners of the club paid employees for assisting in the cleanup process, she said.
Ginnetti also said the community played a crucial role in providing financial support for BAR employees. Gotham Citi Cafe, another Crown Street nightclub, hosted a fundraiser for BAR employees Monday night that Ginnetti said generated more than $1,000.
“It was a huge success,” she said. “Several restaurants donated food for the event.”
Susa said that in addition to outside support, BAR employees are cooperating with each other to help those with financial problems. Employees with less financial need are giving hours to those who need the work more, she said.
Although Susa said she was not greatly impacted by the fire, she said several of her fellow employees’ livelihoods were based on the tips they made waiting tables.
“We get paid such a small amount hourly, and we make up for it through tips,” she said. “Some of the girls and guys have their own apartments and a lot of responsibility. They really needed help.”
In order to return the club to its original condition, Patrick said, the dance floor and concert equipment was thoroughly cleaned and the phone and electricity lines replaced. Although a formal estimate has not yet been completed, he estimated that the restaurant lost $100,000 from fire damage and lost business.
Several students said they are glad BAR has reopened so soon.
“A large proportion of the Yale community goes there,” said Jason Ray ’06, who said he often goes for BAR’s weekly “Alternative Night,” which caters to the gay and lesbian community.
Ginnetti said BAR is not currently planning on taking any legal action against the building’s roofing company.
–Staff Reporter James Warrick-Alexander contributed to this report.