Workers have started bringing back to life the beloved Livingstone’s restaurant and bar in the Tower District one year after a fire that nearly destroyed it.
Workers were in the bar Thursday hanging sheetrock on the wood-framed walls.
Dec. 20 marked one year since an arsonist started the fire that gutted Livingstone’s, on Fern Avenue near Wishon Avenue. The fire caused an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 damage and put many employees out of work days before Christmas.
The owners had hoped to reopen quickly after the fire. In August, they said on Facebook they had hoped to open in a month, but that didn’t happen. It’s not clear what exactly caused the delays, but issues in the plans and permitting process appear to have played a role.
But Thursday a generator was running and workers were installing a stack of sheetrock.
“We’re working on things and it’s going,” said one of the owners, Cynthia K. Green, in a voice mail message to The Bee.
“We’re not quite sure of the opening date yet,” she said. “Hopefully sometime like the … first part of the year. Hopefully, maybe February is the goal.”
There is still a lot left to be done at Livingstone’s, including installing flooring and tile, painting and staining the woodwork, said construction manager Brian Volenec of Butler Construction.
“We’re going to be lucky to finish by February,” he said.
The owners hope to keep Livingstone’s as close to the original as possible, including that “warm wood feeling,” Green said in September.
Some things will be a little different, however. The previously small bathrooms needed to expand to meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirments. The walls are partially built, with the restrooms eating up a little more of the dining room space than they did before.
Although much of the interior was reduced to a charred pile of debris after the fire, an outline of the place is starting to take shape. In the middle of it all, one metal pole from the little staircase between the bar and the dining room still stands.