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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Former Bistro 33 location set on fire by arsonist

Italian eatery Mamma to open next year in the same building 


By ELLIE LEE — city@theaggie.org


On Nov. 1 around 5 p.m., the Davis Fire Department received a call about a fire at the building that used to house the restaurant Bistro 33. Fire Captain and Fire Investigator at City of Davis Luis Parrilla arrived on scene, confirming a working fire. He said that they had to force the door open in order to extinguish the fire inside.

“This scene went very well,” Parilla said. “Working as a team together with the university as well as the City of Davis Fire Department made this a successful incident.”

After a joint investigation by the City of Davis Fire Department and Police Department, it was found that the fire was intentionally set. Parilla says that the incident is still under investigation as it is an open case.

“The cause of the fire is […] incendiary,” Parilla said. “It was called in by a passerby that saw flames inside of the structure.”

Incendiary incidents are very rare in Davis, according to Parrilla. On the day of the fire, third-year human biology major Rebecca Hawthorne was sitting in Temple Coffee Roasters, a coffee shop next door, with her friend.

“A guy working next to us went outside; he was the one who called 911,” Hawthorne said. “He came back in, saw us sitting, and he was like, ‘Come on out! There’s a fire!’”

Hawthorne saw three fire trucks and about four police cars, and she said there was an ambulance. She did not see who set it on fire, but she clearly saw smoke and firefighters extinguishing the fire.

“They had to break down the gate in front of it,” Hawthorne said. “There were at least two fire trucks using their hoses. They took out all the stuff inside the building.”

Michael Galyen and his chef partner Arnaud Drouvillé are the tenants of the building that was formerly Bistro 33. Galyen said that they still intend to open Mamma, an Italian cuisine restaurant, on the same day as planned, which they hope to be early to mid-June.

“There was damage, but it was allocated to a very small square footage area,” Galyen said. “The landlords have been incredibly responsive on getting the restoration portion of it going. We met right after, a couple days after. I don’t think this actually slows us down at all.”

Galyen said that they are not fearful of any more of these types of incidents, as they have security measures in place in all their restaurants, and they will have an alarm system in Mamma. Parrilla discussed how businesses can take safety precautions to prevent fires.

“It’s always good to have an alarm system and a sprinkler system,” Parilla said. “When [staff] leave the business, make sure anything that could cause a fire is off, [like] stoves, lighting, anything that you know could be that electrical. Make sure they lock their businesses at night. Have good lighting and security cameras.”

Parilla also outlined crucial fire safety guidelines for UC Davis students.

“With homework and paperwork, keep combustibles away from stoves,” Parilla said. “Be careful with candles. Know that when there’s a fire in your home, just go out and stay out and call 911 from the outside.”


Written by: Ellie Lee — city@theaggie.org


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