Fire Destroys Restaurant in Fullerton

Times Staff Writers

Fire gutted a popular restaurant in downtown Fullerton early Tuesday, prompting officials to close the landmark building housing the business, a city spokeswoman said.

Tony's Melody Inn at 106 S. Harbor Blvd. was destroyed and half of its next-door neighbor, Furniture Concepts, burned, spokeswoman Sylvia Palmer said. The two other businesses in the building escaped damage.

"The actual damage has not been determined but is expected to exceed $1 million," Palmer said.

She said the two-story building, which was built in the early 1900s, will be demolished because "the fire removed the structural support for the masonry walls."

The fire started in the common attic of the two businesses and was discovered by a Fullerton Fire Department engine company that was returning from a medical aid call about 11:58 p.m. Monday, Palmer said. It took 36 firefighters from the Fullerton, Buena Park and Anaheim departments until 2:30 a.m. to control the blaze, she said.

The city's chief building official deemed the building unsafe for entry, which meant fire officials could not enter the building to determine the cause of the blaze, Palmer said.

Fire Marshal Mark Martin said debris will have to be removed before firefighters can safely enter the building. At the earliest, removal will occur Thursday.

The northbound curb lane in the 100 block of South Harbor Boulevard was closed as a result of the damage, Palmer said. The lane may be reopened this afternoon.

The Melody Inn, which started in the 1940s as a nightclub, was refurbished a few years ago when Tony Florentine acquired ownership and reopened it as a restaurant and cocktail lounge. Neither he nor Pierre Nicolas, owner of the landmark building, could be reached for comment.

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