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Fire Hits Great China Restaurant in Downtown Berkeley

By Scott Morris (BCN) and Planet
Thursday January 26, 2012 - 04:06:00 PM
Foster Goldstrom
Foster Goldstrom

A fire badly damaged a Chinese food restaurant on Kittredge near Oxford in downtown Berkeley on Wednesday night, Berkeley fire officials said. 

The fire started shortly after 9 p.m. in the Great China restaurant at 2115 Kittredge St., which shares a building with Razan's Organic Kitchen next door.  

The business is owned by the Yu family. Michael Yu was the founder, and the second generation, son James Yu, now participates in managing the business.  

According to Foster Goldstrom, a restaurant patron and family friend who visited the site this afternoon, James is a noted collector of West Coast wines, but his fine collection, which was stored in the building, was severely damaged by the fire. Goldstrom said the family estimated that rebuilding would take 6 months. Construction has already begun.  

Assistant Fire Capt. Jon Fitch, who was called in to investigate after the blaze was extinguished, said a cooking fire started in the kitchen of the Chinese restaurant and quickly spread. Fitch said Great China sustained $500,000 in damage to the building, and $200,000 in damage to its contents. 

"It definitely is shutting down based on the fire," Fitch said. 

Despite sharing a building with Great China, Razan's was not damaged by the flames, Fitch said. 

"There was no fire damage that I can see, I think they'll be able to open pretty quick," Fitch said. 

Both restaurants were evacuated during the fire, although there were not many customers in either at that hour. No one was injured.