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Update: Equinox's holiday plans

Decisions are being made "hourly" by Equinox chef-owner Todd Gray about where he will cook over the holidays. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Three days after a devastating electrical fire, Equinox restaurant is tallying the damage: The kitchen is destroyed. So is the wine room (and more than $40,000 worth of wine), the office and half of one of the serving stations. The carpets were under four inches of water. All told, says Ellen Kassoff Gray, co-owner and general manager, the losses total more than $300,000.

"This, followed by one of the biggest snowstorms in Washington history. It would be great fiction," she told me today. "As reality, I can't even believe it."

(For photos of the damage, check out the Washington City Paper's Young and Hungry blog.)

Although the damage is serious, Kassoff Gray said construction crews are already on the scene to begin rebuilding. She estimates that Equinox could re-open within three to four weeks.

Still, the restaurant is making plans about how, or whether, to keep cooking through the holidays. On Friday, Equinox chef-owner Todd Gray "re-opened" in the private dining space at Aria Trattoria in the Ronald Reagan International Building on Pennsylvania Avenue, honoring current reservations and taking new ones. But the space didn't make sense for "what we are trying to do," Kassoff Gray said. And the blizzard led to the cancellation of all weekend reservations. Today, the federal building is officially closed.

For the chef, cooking helps to keep him focused. For staff, it's important to keep earning money during the busy holiday season. Since Friday, the Grays have received hundreds of e-mail offers with places to cook, including in private homes for holiday parties to several area hotels. Equinox is assessing the range of offers, Kassoff Gray said, and decisions are being made hourly. For information on where to find Todd Gray and his staff, e-mail Ellen.

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  December 21, 2009; 12:00 PM ET
Categories:  Chefs  | Tags: Equinox, Jane Black, chefs  
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