After fire guts Treme restaurant, owner is uncertain what the future holds

Restaurant catches fire in Treme

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A two-fire alarm Wednesday destroyed a Treme restaurant that has been in the community for decades.

“I thought you was in there. That was crazy,” Daphne Hargett cried as she embraced her father.

Daphne Hargett was overcome with emotion when she found out her father was not inside his restaurant when the fire broke out.

“I got a call saying he was in there. So the panic was just - thank God. You just don’t know. I feel just, relief that he wasn’t in there, cause his truck is there,” Daphne Hargett said.

Firefighters were also initially told that three people, including the owner, were suspected to be inside Roosevelt’s Black Pearl Restaurant. They later found out that only one person was inside at the time of the fire, and successfully jumped from the second floor.

If it wasn't for an appointment, Roosevelt Hargett would likely have been inside.

“I work every day. She was home, and she thought I was in there cause I didn’t call her this morning, but I was closed. I had to go to the Department of Health. I was here for 10 o’clock. Wasn’t nothing going on,” Roosevelt Hargett said.

It's too soon to tell what the extent of the damage is, but the back of the restaurant collapsed, and firefighters are afraid the rest of the building may come down.

“We probably lost everything in there. It was equipment, everything. So, I guess we lost everything,” Roosevelt Hargett said.

Crowds of loyal customers and neighbors watched as smoke billowed from the building.

Many said Hargett did a lot for his community.

“A lot of people in the community always come to him for meals, and he was very generous,” Ike Sterling said. “It’s terrible, you know? Because so many people depend on him to eat, you know? He had two employees, some stayed.”

“He took in a couple of guys, a couple of homeless guys and let them stay in the building. In fact, one of the guys was in there sleeping,” Nathan Sterling said.

Hargett said his restaurant has been in the community for over 50 years, and he's overcome disaster before.

“I lost everything in Katrina, but we came back, but the building was damaged. But this time the building is burnt," Hargett said.

Hargett said it's too soon to tell whether he will rebuild.

According to the New Orleans Fire Department, flames were raging through the roof when crews got here, but they were able to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring buildings.

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