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Equinox suffers kitchen fire, but is still cooking

Chef Todd Gray is cooking at Aria after a fire broke out at the kitchen at Equinox. (Nikki Kahn -- The Washington Post)

A fire broke out last night at Equinox, causing the restaurant to close just before the busy holiday period.

How the fire started is still unknown, but the fire department suspects the cause is electrical, said co-owner Ellen Kassoff Gray. The fire broke out at 3 a.m. when no one was in the restaurant.

Gray and her husband, chef Todd Gray, are still assessing the damage. "There's a lot of smoke damage, that's for sure. But it's hard to see what's going on. We've got a lot of flashlights," she said.

Equinox, site of the Obamas' first foray into fine dining in the District, is honoring all reservations and taking new ones. The restaurant is operating out of Aria Trattoria in the Ronald Reagan International Building, where chef Gray has set up camp in Aria's banquet kitchen and is serving in one of the separate, private dining rooms. The restaurant's cooks and servers have all moved to the temporary space.

A kitchen fire is always devastating. But the timing, right before Christmas, is particularly troublesome as the holidays are an especially busy time of the year. Equinox completed a renovation of its dining room and atrium last year.

Ellen Gray said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of help from chefs and restaurateurs. Many have stopped by to help move furniture and drive food from Equinox over to Aria, where Todd is already cooking. "I have 70 or 80 voice mails on my phone," she said. "Everyone is reaching out."

To change reservations or make new ones, call Aria at 202-409-3157. For continued updates, visit Equinox's Web site or its Facebook page.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  December 18, 2009; 2:25 PM ET
Categories:  Chefs  | Tags: Jane Black, restaurants  
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Wonderful move on Aria's part. Bravo.

Posted by: EricS2 | December 18, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

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