Bethany Clough

Livingstone’s gets closer to opening. We took a peek inside this Tower District favorite

Fire causes extensive damage to Tower District restaurant

Fire caused extensive damage to a longtime Tower District restaurant early Tuesday, Dec. 20 in Fresno, California. Heavy smoke roiled from Livingstone’s Restaurant & Pub when firefighters arrived just before 5 a.m.
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Fire caused extensive damage to a longtime Tower District restaurant early Tuesday, Dec. 20 in Fresno, California. Heavy smoke roiled from Livingstone’s Restaurant & Pub when firefighters arrived just before 5 a.m.

The first few booths are installed. The bar top has been rebuilt and the concrete floor has been refinished.

Livingstone’s is making progress toward reopening.

It’s been nearly two years – 20 months, to be exact – since an arsonist allegedly set fire to the popular bar and restaurant in the Tower District, turning the dining room into blackened rubble. The business is one of the most-watched, most asked-about places in town.

But before you get too excited, there’s no reopening date set yet.

Work continues inside. On Monday, a man was cleaning the kitchen and electricians were working inside the dining room.

A cluster of bar stools, chairs and tables await their places. New bathrooms now sit where a couple of tables used to be, newly enlarged and accessible.

Stone’s, as many call it, at least appears close to being done.

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Work is continuing on Livingstone’s, a popular Tower District bar and restaurant. A fire tore through the dining room in late 2016. Bethany Clough Fresno Bee

Livingstone’s owners did not return calls seeking comment for this story.

City of Fresno spokesman Mark Standriff said the owners are making final repairs and an inspection would be scheduled soon after.

We’ve been here before. The owners had hoped for a quick reopening after the fire a few days before Christmas in 2016. About a year ago, the owners told the Bee they had hoped to reopen “give or take a month.” And after that, one of the owners said, “Hopefully, maybe February is the goal.”

The dates were given and reported in earnest. But the opening hasn’t happened yet.

Delays aren’t unusual in situations like this, Standriff said.

“In our experience, the amount of time and money it takes for a business to come back from a fire, it is usually a larger amount of time and larger amount of money than first expected,” he said.

Fire caused extensive damage to a longtime Tower District restaurant early Tuesday, Dec. 20 in Fresno, California. Heavy smoke roiled from Livingstone’s Restaurant & Pub when firefighters arrived just before 5 a.m.

Other businesses have taken nearly as long to open in new locations. Mama Mia/Lucy’s Lounge opened more than a year after a Bee story said the pizza place and cocktail bar were coming. The owner of India’s Oven had hoped to open inside the former Million Elephant space in the Tower District by last May. In north Fresno, the new Trader Joe’s opened six months after its executives had originally hoped to open.

Delays that can happen behind the scenes can the puzzle the public, whether it’s construction getting behind schedule, issues with insurance, or approvals for permits and inspections taking longer than expected.

But work is happening inside Livingstone’s. As soon as we know when Livingstone’s will reopen, we’ll let you know.

Bethany Clough: 559-441-6431, @BethanyClough
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