An Italian restaurant reportedly lost £2,500 last night after damage to a cable caused “flames to rise 20ft in the air” and a “near-riot” among customers.
Andy Firetto says his business Don Giovanni’s has been suffering from disruption caused by roadworks for the Temple Quarter Enterprise Zone – a scheme including homes and offices – since June 2017.
Mr Firetto claims Don Giovanni’s, on Temple Gate, lost £17,000 in the latest financial year and he fears it could close due to Bristol City Council’s project, as Bristol Live reported in May.
Now he has hit out at the latest disruption to the 37-year-old restaurant, an incident which he branded “nothing short of a disaster”.
(Image: James Beck/Freelance)
Mr Firetto, 55, says the council’s contractor Eurovia hit a main power cable while excavating the road outside Don Giovanni’s at 8.30pm yesterday (September 11).
He says the electricity went down while 80 customers were eating in the restaurant at peak time.
Mr Firetto said: “There was an almighty pop. It plunged the restaurant into darkness.
“The extractors filled up with smoke. There was panic for the customers. It was a near-riot situation.
“The fridges stopped working. My partner went round apologising profusely to everyone.
“We were unable to finish cooking meals for people. We were unable to take card payments so some people did not pay.”
(Image: James Beck/Freelance)
Don Giovanni’s was forced to close for the night at its busiest time.
“One of the contractors came up and said he had hit a power cable in the road,” Mr Firetto added.
“He said there had been an explosion and flames had gone up 20ft in the air.
“Western Power came down but the power didn’t come back until 1.40am.”
The restaurateur estimates he lost around £2,500 last night. He believes in total the Temple Quarter roadworks have cost his business £22,000.
Just last month, Mr Firetto voiced anger over an incident which saw Don Giovanni’s empty within minutes after an unattended resurfacing machine was left running outside.
He said: “It’s one thing after another. Now I have taken another hit. It’s a very bitter pill.
“I am going to initiate legal action against the council. I have a barrister waiting in the sidelines.
The resurfacing outside Don Giovanni’s is part of the latest stage in the roadworks, which has seen Temple Gate and surrounding roads closed from 8pm to 6am since July 28.
The council said recent poor weather was to blame for this stage’s completion date initially being pushed back from August 18 to 22, but Mr Firetto says it is still ongoing and claims he has not been told why.
He says the roadworks have turned the area into a “ghost town”, a complaint echoed last month by Sidings, a pub a couple of doors down.
Sidings owner Ben Caunter told Bristol Live the pub is haemorrhaging £6,000 a week and has cut staff from eight to two in the last year due to the development.
The project is due to be completed this autumn, which would be at least nine months later than the original date given by the council.
What the council and Eurovia say
A council spokesman said: “Our officers have visited Don Giovanni’s today to offer our sincerest apologies and we will be speaking with our contractors with the expectation they offer compensation for the business’ loss of earnings.
“We regret the disruption and worry this unfortunate accident caused and empathise with the difficult position this put Mr Firetto and his team in.”
A Eurovia spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident involving a damaged electric cable near a Eurovia worksite in Temple Gate.
“The direct cause of the damage is unclear at this stage and we are undertaking an investigation to establish the facts.
“We have made contact with the restaurant owner today to keep him updated on the progress of this investigation.”
Western Power declined to comment.
For the latest news in and around Bristol, you can check back on Bristol Live’s homepage.