By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,620)
A two alarm fire broke out early on Wednesday morning at Boone’s Fish House & Oyster Room, 86 Commercial Street, on the Portland waterfront. The restaurant is owned by the controversial Chef Harding Lee Smith. Firefighters were investigating a fire alarm which sounded around 4:00 am, when the fire was discovered, according to a press release issued by the City’s Fire Department.
“When fire crews entered the business they discovered smoke and immediately called for more help,” said Portland Fire Chief Jerome LaMoria. Firefighters extinguished the difficult to access fire after a second alarm was requested. LaMoira continued: “Firefighters on the scene eventually discovered the source of the smoke in the facade surrounding the chimney and fireplace. Unfortunately, we had to completely remove the facade to the fireplace to extinguish the fire. The good news is this fire could have been much worse, had it not been for the functioning fire alarm system. It worked exactly as it should have,” Chief LaMorira, the press release continued. The fireplace where the fire started was in use the night before the fire was discovered. Emloyees tried to put it out, before they left. However, due to a “structural” problem in the area, it was still smoldering, according to construction workers on site today, Thanksgiving Day.
It is hoped that the Restaurant will reopen on Saturday at 5:00 pm., Andre Gennitti, general manager, told mhn on Thanksgiving Day morning. He was on site cooking “something” for employees of a construction company working during the Holilday.
Smith and his wife are the owners of a chain of restaurants in Portland known as The Rooms. Boone’s Seafood is his most recent restaurant that opened this summer. It required extensive renovation, more than Smith reportedly anticipated. But it was able to open late this summer in order to capture some of the tourist business. Smith and his wife, Darcy, have been the subject of negative PR because of their inappropriate treatment of employees, very often in the presence of guests at their restaurants. Several years ago, former and current employees sued Smith for bad business practices. The case was settled out of court. This Restaurant replaces the former Boone’s Restaurant which closed years ago and had been a salty presence on the Portland waterfront since 1898.
Their first “Room” is the Front Room located on Congress Street on Munjoy Hill. The couple lives on Munjoy Hill with their son.