'Cheesecake' fire closes next-door restaurant

Back-alley blaze Wednesday afternoon damages fire-safety connections to Madison & Fifth restaurant

A small fire behind the Cheesecake Factory restaurant in downtown Palo Alto Wednesday night has resulted in the temporary closure of an adjacent restaurant, Madison & Fifth, due to damages to fire-safety equipment.

The fire, initially thought to be in a rubbish container, turned out to involve a grease container and other materials behind the building at 375 University Ave.

Both restaurants were evacuated and the Cheesecake Factory was allowed to reopen soon after the incident. But Madison & Fifth will stay closed until all repairs (which require city permits) can be made.

The blaze damaged a gas line going into the building, which was quickly capped off. But it also damaged a water-flow alarm for the structure's sprinkler system and the telephone line that provides an emergency link to city dispatchers, according to Barbara Cimino, emergency coordinator for the Fire Department.

Cimino said city Utilities Department and Building Department officials responded to the scene along with police and fire.

The Utilities responder determined that the fire damaged the gas line connections at the meter to the extent that the line was leaking. The meter was removed and the gas to the building was shut down and capped, Cimino reported.

The damage to the fire sprinkler system and telephone wiring compromised the system's link to the Palo Alto Communications Center, she said.

She said the building inspector worked with the manager of Madison & Fifth to inform him how to get permits for repair started first thing in the morning.

The manager was also informed that a fire watch would be required during the course of the evening in the event of a fire-sprinkler system activation. The Police Department Watch Commander was advised and was requested to have the on-duty patrol officers monitor the situation.

The Building and Fire departments will assist Madison & Fifth with the permit process to get the restaurant back in business in the shortest amount of time possible, Cimino said.

Damage estimates are undetermined.

Four fire trucks, a police car and paramedics van responded to the incident, which resulted in closure of University for a time.

-- Palo Alto Weekly staff; intern Emily James contributed to this report.


Posted by JMB, a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 30, 2009 at 1:28 pm

Not surprising. There are always at least 3 people behind Cheesecake Factory smoking every time I walk by there.

Posted by Toady, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 30, 2009 at 3:00 pm

Well, thats' one way to get get rid of a competitor.

Posted by Christine Suppes, a resident of Stanford
on Jul 31, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Remember when the Cheesecake Factory used to be an outdoor sport and mountain gear store? What has happened to Palo Alto?

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