On one Sunday afternoon in early January, between brunch and dinner, Vivace appeared to be taking on water. A pipe had burst somewhere above the North Hills Italian restaurant, and the water would not stop coming. It seeped into the walls, into sections of the floor.
It was all employees could do to squeegee the water in the kitchen.
Vivace is scheduled to reopen for dinner Wednesday night after three and a half weeks of rebuilding, said owner Kevin Jennings of Urban Food Group.
The damage to Vivace was fairly extensive, ruining a large part of the hardwood floor and the drywall of parts of the dining room and a restroom. A 1,500-bottle wine rack had to be moved, as did the restaurant’s booths and banquets while repairs were underway.
All told, Jennings estimates the damage around $175,000, nearly twice what he thought initially. Insurance will cover most of it and has been paying Vivace’s employees during the hiatus. No wine was lost, but Jennings said about $5,000 worth of food was ruined. He said while Vivace was hit pretty hard, the apartments were worse off.
“It could have been way worse,” Jennings said.
While Vivace was closed, around a dozen employees volunteered at A Place at the Table, a non-profit restaurant on West Hargett Street that opened earlier this month. The restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch, allows diners to pay what they can afford, pay it forward or volunteer. Jennings said he was impressed.
“That was all them, I didn’t have anything to do with that,” Jennings said of his employees’ efforts.
“I think a lot of us would see a three-week paid vacation and head off to the beach or somewhere,” he said. “But a good number of our staff members went down there and helped out. It’s really a fantastic thing.”
The help came at a good time, said Maggie Kane, executive director of A Place at the Table. She said the new restaurant has been slammed since opening. Kane said employees from so.ca and Buku restaurants, whose owner Sean Degnan is the board chairman for A Place at the Table, often worked in the kitchen. But Vivace workers helped give them a break.
“They saved us,” Kane said. “Several of their employees spent multiple days in a row with us. Some have even signed up to work Saturdays here. ...They helped cook food, run, helped on the expo. They were a godsend.”
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson