RACINE — A south-side restaurant has been deemed a total loss after a New Year’s Day structure fire caused an estimated $100,000 in damage.
At 4:32 p.m. Monday, multiple 911 calls reported smoke coming from Rosie’s restaurant, 1804 Taylor Ave., according to a Racine Fire Department news release. The fire was contained to Rosie’s and no injuries were reported, but the building was a total loss, according to the fire department.
The cause and origin of the fire remained under investigation Tuesday.
History of Rosie’s
The restaurant was previously named Simply Sandy’s, Just Judy’s and Pete’s Pixie. That was until about 15 years ago, when Alfonso Arroyo bought the Taylor Avenue restaurant.
At that time, his daughter, Rosie Trevino, was about 16. He had wanted to name the restaurant after his wife, Mary Jane. But after she said no, he went with the name Rosie’s, after his eldest daughter.
Arroyo had worked many years in the restaurant business as a cook, but his dream was to work for himself and own his own place. That dream came true when he bought Rosie’s, Trevino said.
He ran the diner and, through the years, his children worked at the restaurant as well.
Trevino, 31, said she was a waitress at Rosie’s throughout high school and college and got to know many of the customers. When she and her husband got married, two tables full of Rosie’s customers were at the wedding — customers who had watched her grow up and later welcomed her children into the Rosie’s family as her family expanded.
What made Rosie’s special
In a family statement, Trevino said: “This heartbreaking event has reminded us how much our beloved Rosie’s meant to so many people and to the Racine community. Rosie’s was more than just a restaurant. We were a family. From our hardworking employees to our loyal patrons is what made Rosie’s so special.”
The restaurant was open from 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily and was known for its breakfasts and burgers.
While Arroyo continued many of the favorite breakfast and lunch menu items from years past, he also made the menu his own over the years, adding Mexican menu items and a menu of healthier options.
Rosie’s had signature menu items named after regulars who always ordered them. For instance, the Frank sandwich, named after a customer named Frank, consisted of a sausage patty with a fried egg and cheese on an English muffin.
Ted Janot, a 76-year-old retired painting contractor from Racine, said he has been having breakfast at Rosie’s almost every day for about 15 years, except on Sundays when the restaurant was closed.
“Looks like I’m not going to be going there a while now,” Janot said. “I’m going to miss a lot of the talk in the morning, shooting the breeze about politics, fishing, whatever.”
On Tuesday, Janot was one of the customers who showed up at Rosie’s to find out how bad the damage from the fire was.
“I was curious,” Janot said. “I wanted to find out if it was a little fire or a big fire. And it was definitely a big one.”
Firefighters battled the blaze Monday evening for more than 3 hours in the sub-zero temperatures.
As Racine Fire Department firefighters were dispatched and arrived at the scene, temperatures were below zero and the wind chill was estimated at 16 degrees below zero.
Firefighters could see smoke coming from the building when they arrived at the family diner and moments later, fire was seen burning through the restaurant’s roof, according to a release from the Fire Department.
Firefighters on scene were concerned about a potential roof collapse due to heavy HVAC equipment mounted on the restaurant’s roof.
Standing water around the building quickly turned into ice, presenting another challenge for those battling the fire.
The Racine Police Department, City of Racine Health Department, We Energies and Racine Department of Public Works also responded to the scene.
Rosie’s had a fire in 2009
This is the not the first time a fire has broken out at Rosie’s.
On Sept. 1, 2009, the Fire Department battled a structure fire that caused an estimated $80,000 in damage to Rosie’s building and contents.
That fire was in a wall behind the stove hood and duct system, the above ceiling and roof.
After that fire, Rosie’s closed its doors for about 3½ months, reopening in mid-December of that year.
Trevino said that blaze was caused by a grease fire.
Trevino said Tuesday it was too soon to say what the family would do as far as rebuilding or establishing a new restaurant. She said no GoFundMe account has been set up and people should not contribute money to any Rosie’s fund account they see because one has not been established.
In a Facebook post on Rosie’s page, the family thanked the community for its concern.
“The outpouring support from the community has been positively overwhelming,” the post said. “We can’t thank you all enough … We will keep updates on here as much as we can.”