(WSB photos from Friday morning)
Four days now have passed since the early-morning fire that heavily damaged the interior of the historic Alki Homestead restaurant; yesterday, owner Tom Lin estimated in this update for WSB that it would take more than six months to repair and reopen. This morning, he just sent us another update, including some information related to the cause of the fire, listed by Seattle Fire Department investigators as too many Christmas lights plugged into one socket:
I just want to clarify why we never took down the Christmas lights. We lost reservations for over 600 people the week before Christmas due to the snow storm. Many of the customers called and asked Homestead to keep the lights up till the end of January. The fire was caused by the combination of old wiring, Christmas lights and other unforeseen factors. I don’t think any one is at fault.
I met up with the buyers of Alki Homestead today and many issues were discussed. Johnny and Rose still would like to proceed with the purchase of Alki Homestead after it is restored. However, the following conditions will have to be met:
1. The restaurant has to come back as Alki Homestead or there is no goodwill, hence they will not be interested.
2. If the build-out is more than buyers’ original budget due to fire, the seller may have to make up for the shortfall.
3. Buyers will be included in the restoration process to ensure the integrity of the building.
4. Buyers will not have their names released until documents are signed pertaining to the above conditions.
I appreciate all the support from the community. So far, I believe we can still meet our payroll. It is just nice to know that people are thinking of our employees especially when the job market is really tough now.
We have a followup question out to Tom — who sent the update a short time ago — regarding the buyers, who for the first time he publicly identifies as “Johnny and Rose.” Based on some intel we received when Tom first described the anonymous prospective buyers as a husband-and-wife chef team living in Fauntleroy, we believe “Johnny” is Johnny Zhu (background here, via LinkedIn). More updates to come; we also are asking Tom a question one WSBer posed – whether there’s any way to donate to help the Homestead staff.