April 14, 2021, By Michael Dorgan
A trendy Chinese restaurant that closed last year after a fire ripped through its Long Island City storefront reopened earlier this month.
The blaze tore through the second floor of the two-story building and completely destroyed the roof. The first floor, which houses the kitchen and dining area, was water damaged by FDNY firefighters who extinguished the flames, according to Xi’an Famous Foods CEO Jason Wang.
Wang, 33, said that he had to wait for the landlord to complete the repair work before his eatery could re-open.
The fire, Wang said, was started by contractors who were doing work on the roof on behalf of the property owner. Wang said that a torch they were using ignited the fire. The blaze broke out at around 1:20 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2020.
“When I came across the fire I just felt helpless,” Wang said. “It looked so bad and there were so many firefighters involved I had to just accept it and deal with the aftermath.”
An FDNY spokesperson said it took 33 units and 140 firefighters to put out the flames at the time.
Wang, who owns and operates the Xi’an restaurant chain, originally opened the Jackson Avenue venue in March 2019. He said that it was among the brand’s busiest restaurants before the fire struck.
There are eight restaurants in the chain, all located in New York City. There are two others in Queens— one in Flushing and another in Woodside.
The chain is known for serving authentic western Chinese dishes like hand-ripped noodles and dumplings. It also offers “burgers” made with flatbread.
Wang, who is from China, said he is pleased that the Jackson Avenue restaurant has finally reopened and said business is going well.
“People have been waiting months for our reopening so there is a lot of pent-up demand for our food,” Wang said. “We are back now and people are excited.”
The chain was established by Wang’s father in 2005 as a small stall in Flushing’s Golden Shopping Mall. Two years later, the eatery got a tremendous boost from the late Anthony Bourdain, who visited the location in 2007 for his show “No Reservations.”
Wang said that there have been a few minor changes made to the restaurant since the fire.
There is extra seating upstairs and there is also an outdoor dining area on Jackson Avenue.
The restaurant is open Mondays through Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. It is closed on Sundays.