Fire, chef-owner Douglas Katz’s flagship restaurant at Shaker Square, will not reopen. Katz shared the sad news today that he is permanently closing the 20-year-old bistro.
“Fire is a restaurant that doesn’t fit the pandemic, and it doesn’t fit the world we’re in,” he explains. “The costs in a normal time are so expensive that it’s really all smoke and mirrors when it comes to the bottom line and what you can do. And then something like this happens. Even at 90 percent it doesn’t work.”
From the moment it opened its doors in 2001, Fire was a hit, drawing sophisticated diners from throughout the region and beyond to Shaker Square, which was no easy feat. They came for the industrial chic dining room, professional service, spot-on seasonal American fare and Doug Katz’s unpretentious and generous spirit.
“We had a great 20-year run,” he says. “I want to respect what it was and I don’t want to start something in April where we’re just trying to keep something alive that it can’t be. I’d rather focus on what I can do and what we’re excited to do this year and into the future.”
Katz recently opened Zhug in Cleveland Heights, the fast-casual Chutney B at Van Aken District and Chimi, a ghost kitchen, at his commissary on Lee Road. Katz teased that a new ghost-kitchen concept likely will arrive sometime this fall.
“New concepts, like Zhug and now Chimi, modeled on the ghost kitchens in densely populated cities, are one way we’ll move into the future,” Katz added. “We’re certainly looking forward to better days.”
Peter Rubin, the owner of Shaker Square, said that COVID-19 is forcing him and others to take a fresh look at real estate and restaurant dining.
“The Square is a powerful community asset and we will miss the incredible dining experience Fire provided and the leadership that Doug Katz has shown for many years,” Rubin reports. “We understand the unprecedented challenges we all face today and Shaker Square is working to move forward with new businesses and dining options.”