Fire damages Durham eatery Parker and Otis

jwise@newsobserver.comDecember 27, 2012 

— A Wednesday night fire damaged the popular Parker and Otis restaurant and food store on South Duke Street, but there were no injuries and damage was not extensive.

“I feel blessed, it could have been worse,” Parker and Otis owner Jennings Brody said Thursday morning. “No one was here, it didn’t burn to the ground.

“It’s just going to take a long time to clean it up,” Brody said. All the food stocks have to be discarded, and merchandise must be inventoried for insurance, she said.

“A lot of work,” said Jonathan Kea, Brody’s husband and business partner. “It’s a blessing there were no customers inside.”

The business had been closed for the holidays since Monday and was scheduled to reopen after New Year’s, but Brody said it will take several weeks to resume operations. She had no idea of the financial impact yet.

Fire Marshal Edward Reid said the fire’s cause was still under investigation, but Brody and building co-owner Richard Morgan said they believe it was started by a faulty overhead light fixture.

An automatic sprinkler system contained the fire to an area near the center of the store. The floor and a sales counter were scorched and some merchandise destroyed in the immediate area. Morgan and Brody said there was also smoke damage and much of the space was coated with black ash.

From outside, the only evidence of a fire was a pile of burned goods in the parking lot.

Interim Fire Chief Dan Curia said firefighters were alerted at 7:46 p.m. Wednesday by an automatic fire alarm.

When they arrived four minutes later they saw fire through a window and called for assistance.

Brody and Kea were effusive in praise for the firefighters and said they were grateful for offers of help from other restaurateurs in town.

“Everyone’s been so sweet,” she said.

Wise: 919-641-5895

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