Santa Rosa restaurant fire and the power of good karma

A much loved Santa Rosa restaurant and tap just off Court House Square in Santa Rosa, is using deep Hawaiian ties to help disaster victims there even though it's going through its own fire disaster early Wednesday morning.  

Chef Gray Brody's Roliin's beloved Santa Rosa restaurant, Belly Left Coast Kitchen and Tap Room, was badly damaged when fire broke out in another restaurant above his. Rollin is also a touring chef for rock and country bands and TV personality.

That notwithstanding, Rollin cooked for survivors of Santa Rosa's Tubbs Fire. Staff lead David Finkelstein says it all about one big family: employees, customers and the community. We love everybody. It's definitely a hundred percent. You know, we accept everybody that needs help," said Finkelstein.

A day before this fire, he was in Hawaii where he helped set up the World Kitchen to serve thousands of Maui firestorm victims. That's because he knows that many victims are friends from his years living on Maui as a working chef. "The word is out that they are in desperate need of chefs to start up for the World Central Kitchen before they get there and hi says, 'Is there any way you can make it out here?' And, I said I'll take the next flight out," said Rollin.

The chefs used the food that was donated as well as their own talents. "Creating menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2,500, then 3,000 and by the time I left, we were cooking for 6,500 meals a day," said Rollin.

He returned home for a few hours as before leaving for the East Coast as a touring chef for a week. Santa Rosa firefighters notified him by phone late that night that they were fighting the fire. "And I freaked out. Jumped out of bed," said the chef.

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Over the years, I've talked to a lot of business owners who've had fires. I can tell you from talking to Rollin, one thing seems sure. The Belly is not going belly up. " One hundred percent. There's no doubt about it. I've been in the restaurant business for 33 years now. I have a long lease left, So, I'm all in," said the chef.

The adjoining bar and dining room suffered sever water damage but remains mostly intact. The main bar and dining room was only smoke damaged and can be up and running relatively soon. Perhaps good karma for good deeds. "We are happy to know that we can get the other side open at a decent time but, we just don't know when that time is gonna be," said Finkelstein.

In the meantime, sales proceeds of all Belly hats and shirts will go to Maui relief: more good karma.


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