After the fire, the Village Deli owner looks ahead


Firefighters of the Bloomington Fire Department work to remove the damaged roof of Village Deli's kitchen. The restaurant had a fire around 12 p.m. Sunday. Battalion chief Rick Petermichel said that the structure was stable. Bari Goldman and Bari Goldman Buy Photos

The owner emerged from the door, escorting a health inspector out of the building.

The two made small talk before the health inspector shook the owner’s hand and went on her way, but not before maneuvering past fragments of burnt wood, a pair of white sneakers and a pile of cigarettes.

It had been a day since the fire.

The Village Deli Owner, Bob Costello, was in his office in the basement of the restaurant when a fire broke out shortly after noon Sunday. He walked up the stairs and told a manager it smelled like something was burning.

The manager said the employees thought it was burnt toast.

Costello knew it wasn’t.

They opened the door to the Village Deli’s walk-in cooler, and smoke started billowing into the building. Costello and his employees grabbed fire extinguishers to combat the flames as they tried to locate the source of the fire. At the same time, the managers initiated the evacuation procedures, and someone called 911.

Once they realized it wasn’t on the inside of the cooler, they went outside and saw two units on top of the cooler were engulfed ?in flames.

“We were getting a ladder to put that out when we realized that there was a fire around the cooler,” Costello said Monday afternoon outside of his restaurant, just feet from the charred fragments of wood. “And at that point the fire was above the roof line so we put our fire extinguishers down.”

It was too late to do ?anything.

Fortunately, every employee and customer managed to escape the restaurant without harm.

“Yeah, very fortunate,” Costello said. “We’re very grateful that no one got hurt, that none of the employees were hurt, all the damages are fixable, replaceable, so there’s a lot to be grateful for.”

Bloomington Police Department Sgt. Pam Gladish said wooden pallets and recyclable materials were stored in a small storage porch on the north side of the building. Costello is unsure of the cause of the fire since it started on the exterior of the building.

“I couldn’t comment on that,” he said. “That’s not really my field to determine how a fire started, so I mean I’ll leave that to the experts to figure out.”

The Bloomington Police and Fire Departments are investigating as to whether or not the fire was caused by arson. The IDS contacted BFD twice on Monday but no one was available ?to comment.

The next step for Costello and the Kirkwood Avenue establishment is to assess the damage and wait to hear back from an insurance adjuster about the total cost of the damages.

“Then we’ll repair and re-open,” he said. “And we would hope that be in a couple of weeks.”

Luckily for the Village Deli, the inside of the restaurant largely avoided the flames. Ninety percent of the damage was to the exterior of the building and its electrical components, Costello said.

“We’re in pretty good shape,” he said.

Once Costello got over the shock and awe of the situation, his focus shifted to people. He is proud of those who led the evacuation procedure out of the building.

He is concerned for his employees who have families to provide for, but lack the ability to make an income at the Village Deli for the time being. He is overwhelmed with the support of the Bloomington ?community.

“The outpouring of support from the community on social media has been amazing,” he said. “The business community has rallied around us and offered a ton of help, and it’s nice to hear comments from people about how loved you are in the ?community.”

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