Now that the fire is out, the owner of Joe Momma’s Pizza is mainly concerned about his employees.
Firefighters responded about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday to a blaze inside the Blue Dome District staple at 112 S. Elgin Ave. Flames and heavy smoke could be seen emanating from the roof near the back side of the building, Tulsa Fire Department Capt. Jeff Bacon said.
“We thought that was where most of the smoke and fire was coming from,” he said. “We always attack from an unburned side — so the guys did exactly what they’re trained to do.”
Firefighters forced their way in at the front entrance on the east side and worked their way toward the flames. Police cordoned off Elgin from Second to First streets while fire crews went to work.
“As soon as they got on the fire they got it knocked down with the water hose, then they went ahead and opened those back doors up and started pushing the smoke out,” Bacon said.
The fire appeared to be electrical in nature, starting from an air-conditioning unit near the ceiling of the kitchen area, he said. A fire marshal has not determined the official cause.
No one was inside at the time of the fire. The four-story building nearby that houses El Guapo Cantina at the corner of First Street was not damaged.
“The business to the south does have some pretty heavy smoke damage just from the smoke drifting through the interstitial spaces,” Bacon said.
Blake Ewing, a member of the Tulsa City Council, owns Joe Momma’s and adjacent businesses Boomtown Tees, The Max and White Flag. He said the fire damage was mostly contained to a small area surrounding the air-conditioning unit, but smoke damage was apparent throughout.
“The biggest thing is I’ve got a bunch of employees who count on this for their day-to-day income,” he said.
Ewing said he has insurance on his businesses. He owns the space that houses The Max and has been a tenant at the part of the building that holds Joe Momma’s for about seven years.
“This is our neighborhood down here. There’s a lot of memories in that building, so we want to keep it alive and keep it going,” he said.
A silver lining to the fire is that the restaurant will have a slightly different look after it’s remodeled, Ewing said.
“We’ve got to talk to the restoration crews and that kind of stuff and see what seems possible,” he said. “We’ll do our best.”
The building predates World War II, according to Ewing. It used to have a dirt floor and a horse barn.
“This is why we pay insurance,” he said. “The hope is that we’ll get on this pretty quick.”
For right now, the No. 1 priority for Ewing is his employees, he said.
“We’re going to figure out, the best we can, how to keep people working and how to make sure everybody’s taken care of during the down time,” Ewing said.