Fire destroyed the bar and heavily damaged the dining portion of Peppino’s Restaurant in Washington Sunday night.
But owners of the business, which has operated at 244 S. Main St. for 27 years, plan to rebuild. Their catering business, located next door, was not affected.
A passerby noticed smoke coming from the front of the building before midnight and contacted the city’s fire department.
Washington fire Chief Linn Brookman said the front of the building where the bar was located was gutted by the blaze. There was smoke and water damage to the 50-seat dining area. Brookman said a state police fire marshal was called to investigate the cause.
The business was started by Barbara Nicolella and her late husband, Robert, in 1963. They moved it from its Tylerdale location to downtown in 1985. Mr. Nicolella, a former city councilman, died in May.
Their daughter, also named Barbara, said Monday they hope to save some of the memorabilia in the business. Now covered with black soot are autographed photographs of Joe DiMaggio, trumpeter Louis Prima, boxer Sammy Angott and Larry Csonka, formerly with the Miami Dolphins, who all ate at Peppino’s.
“We’ll do what we can to save those,” she said.
Nicolella said Brookman told her the cause could be electrical because its origin appeared to be near the front of the building where a radio was located and electrical cords were run.
Her brother, Tony, had closed the bar about 11 p.m. Saturday, and that was the last time someone had been in the building. Her other brother, Robert, operates the catering business.
She said they plan to rebuild as soon as possible.
“It’s a lot to deal with,” she admitted but noted the family believes her dad is with them in spirit, and will be watching the renovations.
Firefighters were on the scene for two and a half hours. Firefighters from North Strabane and Peters township with the Rapid Intervention Team also fought the blaze.