Biscottis suffers early morning fire

Quick work by police, fire departments limits damage

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

An early morning fire, which started in a back kitchen at Biscottis restaurant at 3556 St. Johns Ave., created enough smoke to set off a motion detector, leading to quick work by the Jacksonville police and fire departments.

“The amount of smoke from things that were smoldering set off the motion detector, which alerted the police. The police came out, saw the fire and then called the fire department,” said Lindsey Bonifay, manager. “It was a really great collaborative effort between all of them, getting out here so quickly, and of course our sprinkler system helped. It certainly could have been a lot worse.”

Although the 2 a.m. fire on Jan. 23. did not extend to the dining area, full of wood tables and chairs, the heavy smell of smoke and soot covered much of the restaurant.
“It started in one of the back corners where some equipment is located,” said Bonifay. “It was accidental, according to the fire marshal. Not a whole lot of answers yet until we really start pulling things out and looking at it. It’s fairly extensive, it’s going to take some time…to dot our “I’s” and cross our “T’s” to get things documented.”

Coincidentally, on that same day, the Duval Legislative Delegation heard and passed bills amending a Florida statute to create a special zone to provide an exception for space and seating requirements for liquor licenses for Biscottis and for the Casbah Café, also on St. Johns Avenue.

The bills (J-2 and J-3) would allow both restaurants to begin serving alcohol (in addition to the beer and wine already served) even though neither establishment has the seating capacity that meets the 150-seat minimum, according to Florida Statute 561.20(4).

The bills would take effect in March; Bonifay said they are targeting to re-open the neighborhood eatery on or about the first of February.

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