Cafe Society

Oak at Fourteenth plans to rebuild after fire destroys the restaurant

Six weeks.

That's how long, optimistically, Bryan Dayton expects it will take to rebuild Oak at Fourteenth after fire ravaged the space, causing damage everywhere from the attic to the basement.

The fire started in the flue of the wood-fired oven, which was a holdover from the 14th Street Bar & Grill, the last restaurant that held this address before Oak at Fourteenth opened last last year. From there, it raged into the attic, where a lack of sprinklers forced the fire department to punch fifteen holes in the roof and tear down the ceiling inside.

The fire was responsible for the destruction of the kitchen; water damage engulfed much of the rest of the place. Now Dayton's team is basically looking at starting from scratch. "That bathroom, man, it looks like a bomb went off," says Dayton.

Despite all this, Dayton is in good spirits: Insurance will cover the build-out, and it will also allow him and his partners, Annie Polk and Steve Redzikowski, to retain the staff. "This will give us some time to get some things dialed in, too," he says.

The support from the Boulder community has been unbelievably gracious, he adds: "It's humbling. We're so blown away by the support of other restaurants and patrons. We're so grateful."

Now that the shock has subsided, he and his crew have started cleaning up the water damage in the basement and ripping out the sheetrock. But they can't draw up plans for the rest of the space until the police department finishes its investigation of the fire; Dayton says fire department officials have already told him they believe it was an accident. The cops are expected to give Oak the go-ahead on demo next week, though, and then construction will get under way.

And because they're gutting and renovating, anyway, Dayton hints that the partners may be looking at a couple of aesthetic changes to the space, but he won't talk about them until the team decides for sure.

Most of all, he just wants to get started: "I just want to get it knocked out and open again. We had a good buzz built," he says. A buzz that includes a story in Food & Wine written before the fire, but just out this week, listing Oak at Fourteenth among the country's best new bars.

"We're ready to move forward," Dayton concludes.

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Laura Shunk was Westword's restaurant critic from 2010 to 2012; she's also been food editor at the Village Voice and a dining columnist in Beijing. Her toughest assignment had her drinking ten martinis and eating ten Caesar salads over the course of 48 hours. She still drinks martinis, but remains lukewarm on Caesar salads.
Contact: Laura Shunk