Early morning fire engulfs Katz Club Diner's bar car

The remains of the Katz Club Diner's bar car, several hours after the fire had been extinguished.

Photo credit: Richard Stewart

Early Tuesday morning, Oct. 7, the Cleveland Heights Fire Department responded to a call at the Katz Club Diner, located at 1975 Lee Road. Fire crews arrived at approximately 4:30 a.m. and found the bar car on fire. Within 20 minutes, fire fighters had extinguished the fire, and there were no reported injuries, but the bar car sustained extensive damage. The vicinity was briefly blocked to traffic.

Owner Doug Katz arrived at the diner, after being alerted by police, to find the bar car engulfed in flames; by daylight it was a burned-out shell.

Commenting several hours later, at 8:30 a.m., Katz said that he felt “pretty shaken up and awful.” He noted, “It’s been a year and a half, and not only is this our busiest catering week of the year, but we were [preparing the] catering here.”

According to Katz, the business’s diner car and kitchen remained intact but did sustain some degree of smoke damage. Cleveland Heights fire investigators are still in the early stages of their investigation, but indicated to Katz that there may be some signs of forced entry, though it was too early to be sure.

Cleveland Heights Fire Chief Dave Freeman and his assistant chief are both at an out-of-state seminar, and were unavailable for comment.

Tanisha Briley, Cleveland Heights city manager, said, "Officers on patrol discovered the fire and alerted fire officials."

Katz, a Cleveland Heights resident, opened the Katz Club Diner in May 2013, and cited his love of the city as one of the reasons he wanted to open a restaurant here. Katz is also the owner/chef of fire food & drink on Shaker Square, and a partner/chef of Provenance restaurant and café at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Richard Stewart

Richard Stewart, president of Digizoom Media, is vice president of the FutureHeights Board of Directors. Andrea C. Turner, the Heights Observer e-news editor, contributed to this story.

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Volume 7, Issue 11, Posted 2:39 PM, 10.07.2014