A day after a fire at Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana destroyed much of the Pismo Beach restaurant, owner Giuseppe “Joe” DiFronzo is grateful for the community’s support — and he is determined to rebuild the iconic eatery in its same location.
“I can’t say thank you enough to all of the people out there who have reached out to us,” DiFronzo said, noting that people from “absolutely everywhere” have been showing support.
The blaze early Saturday morning gutted much of the interior of the building at 891 Price St. and caused as much as several million dollars’ worth of damage.
“Oh man, it’s indescribable, just seeing all your memories ... to see that all go up in flames is surreal,” DiFronzo said. “That’s my home, that’s my little Italy.”
Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana, which began as DiFronzo’s senior project at Cal Poly, has been in the Pismo Beach space for 28 years.
Cal Fire Battalion Chief Tom McEwen said Saturday that the blaze was accidental and caused by an appliance, likely starting near the pizza oven toward the middle rear of the dining area. On Sunday morning, McEwen said more information had become available overnight and the investigation had been reopened to interview more people and get a better timeline of the incident. He added that Cal Fire believes the cause will remain the same.
“We’re reopening the investigation, not that we think too much has changed, but some facts came to light overnight,” McEwen said. He was unable to give additional information about the fire because of the ongoing investigation.
Oh man, it’s indescribable, just seeing all your memories ... to see that all go up in flames is surreal. That’s my home, that’s my little Italy.
Giuseppe “Joe” DiFronzo, owner of Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana
DiFronzo said he has some insurance but doesn’t know all the details, adding that he’s just beginning the process.
Reopening in the same Pismo Beach location is DiFronzo’s goal. He said that many city officials have stopped by the charred restaurant, showing their support and saying they’d do everything they can to expedite the process of reopening the business.
DiFronzo was uncertain about the details regarding the structural integrity of the building, and he said he couldn’t speculate when the restaurant would reopen.
In the meantime, DiFronzo said he plans to take care of his employees, moving them to his other restaurants or finding things for them to do around the business.
His other restaurants are Pizza Republic in the Marigold Center in San Luis Obispo, Giuseppe’s Express, also in Pismo Beach, and Palazzo Giuseppe on Court Street in San Luis Obispo. Plans are underway for the Court Street restaurant to relocate to the first floor of the historic Sinsheimer Bros. building later this year.
DiFronzo said he plans to honor upcoming events booked at the Pismo Beach location at the San Luis Obispo restaurant, another location of their choosing or possibly the Giuseppe’s banquet room in Pismo Beach. The banquet room, located behind the main restaurant, received smoke damage from the fire, but DiFronzo said he intends to clean up the area to have the space available.
A GoFundMe page was set up by local real estate agent Diana Dennis to provide financial assistance to the employees of Giuseppe’s Cucina Italiana. DiFronzo, who was aware the page had been set up, said he wasn’t associated with it.
As of Sunday evening, $8,635 had been raised, nearly reaching Dennis’ $10,000 goal. Donors include former customers and neighboring restaurants.
Danielle Ames: 805-781-7902