Dining With Denise Neil

One fire-damaged Wichita restaurant will reopen, one won’t

The day after a fire broke out in the ceiling of Alberto’s Pizzeria Buffet, there were still puddles on the floor.
The day after a fire broke out in the ceiling of Alberto’s Pizzeria Buffet, there were still puddles on the floor. The Wichita Eagle

Two Wichita restaurants were damaged during a fire on Thursday night, and only one of them will reopen.

Alberto’s Pizzeria Buffet at 3108 S. Seneca, where the fire originated in the ceiling, will likely close for good, its owner, Ed Caillet, said on Friday afternoon, surveying his destroyed dining room.

“Even though we weren’t doing the best, I wanted to stay here,” said Caillet, who opened the pizza buffet restaurant two years ago. “I really liked the people I worked with and the community. Everyone had something good to say about my restaurant.”

Two south Wichita businesses were damaged by fire late Thursday night. (Stan Finger/The Wichita Eagle)

The news is better next door at Marchello’s, the Italian restaurant that sits right next door at 3107 S. Seneca and has been owned by Mickey Afsharpour for more than 20 years. His plan is to reopen on Saturday.

On Friday afternoon, the doors to his restaurant were wide open and employees could be seen inside wiping down surfaces.

“Our building hasn’t been damaged, but we have to wait for the inspectors to come,” Afsharpour said.

Next door, Caillet stood in his dining room, staring at the big puddles of water on the floor and the demolished ceiling tiles, whose remnants littered the buffet that had been full of pizza slices the night before.

Caillet said his restaurant had been closed for a couple of hours on Thursday night when he got a call at home from his security system provider, alerting him that his restaurant was on fire.

He rushed back to work with his heart racing, he said, and was greeted by a parking lot full of fire trucks and police cars.

Fire investigators told him they think the fire started in the wiring of his ice cream machine, he said. The fire was in the ceiling, and crews tore it up trying to get to the fire.

Caillet said this is his third go-round with restaurants in Wichita. He previously owned White Horse Steakhouse-N-Tavern in Haysville and Skippy’s Pizza Buffet in the same spot Alberto’s operated. He also has a Valero gas station on south Hillside, he said, and he’ll likely focus on that, now.