NORWICH – While the smell of smoke and charred timber remains strong in the air and water continues to drip from areas on its second floor, one can tell that an enormous amount of work has already gone into the rebuilding of Fred’s Inn following Sunday’s fire that gutted portions of the popular restaurant’s walls and ceilings. A 30-foot dumpster, already near capacity at the rear of the historic inn, is evidence of the Cirello family’s determined effort to rebuild and reopen as soon as possible, and co-owner Dave Cirello, who grew up flipping steaks as a six year old child at the restaurant, said he and his family are focused on the task at hand.
The fire, reported by a member of the kitchen staff at Fred’s at approximately 2:45 p.m. Sunday, has been blamed on a broiler adjacent to the south wall of the restaurant’s kitchen. The blaze quickly spread upwards into the structure’s second floor, causing widespread damage to its attic, ceilings and roof. Smoke damage was also substantial, according to Cirello, who said he was simply happy that no one was hurt in the fire. Buildings, he added, can be replaced; his employees, family, friends and customers can not.
“It was disheartening at first ... it was just a nightmare,” admitted Cirello, who runs Fred’s Inn and the Park Place Restaurant and Lounge in downtown Norwich with his father Chic Cirello, “but the motel is still open, people are still booking and people still want to stay here. Repairs are underway and we’ve done a lot of cleaning since Sunday. We will be back.”