Fire at Berkeley’s Great China restaurant on Kittredge St.

Flames in the building at 2115 Kittredge Street. Photo: Jorge Toledo

Update,01.26.12, 5:50 pm: A Bay City News report puts the value of the fire damage to Great China restaurant at $700,000. The fire also destroyed the restaurant’s stock of wine, according to Berkeleyside reader Foster, a fan of the restaurant, who writes: “James Yu, the second generation owner, said it would be six months before they will be able to reopen. James’ wonderful wine collection was lost.” (Berkeley winemaker Chris Brockman of Broc Cellars recently selected Great China’s wine list as one of his favorites, for no other reason, he said, than it was “completely unexpected”.)

Update, 01.26.12, 10:45 am: The fire broke out at around 9:20 pm last night in the kitchen of Great China restaurant and spread through the hood and flue of the cooking range. According to Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong, the fire was upgraded to a 2-alarm when flames caught at the ceiling and roof joists. The fire was settled by 11:30 pm, but firefighters stayed on the scene to ensure it didn’t retake. Contrary to our earlier report, the fire did not affect Razan’s Organic Kitchen which is in the same building and next door to Great China, and that restaurant has been given the all-clear to open today. There were no injuries.

Original story: Tipster Lexy Green sent us an alert tonight at 9:43 pm saying there had been a fire this evening in the building that houses Razan’s Organic Kitchen Great China restaurant, at 2115 Kittredge Street in downtown Berkeley. The photo above, by Jorge Toledo, shows flames emerging from the top rear of the building.

On Twitter, @AChanceFind wrote the following at 9:47: pm: Looks like Chinese restaurant on Kittredge has a kitchen/roof fire. Fire dept has it under control.” This was followed at 10:03 pm by: “I live nearby and watched outside for a while. Crowd has mostly dispersed and it seems well under control. A+ to BFD!”

Deputy Fire Chief Gil Dong told the Daily Californian that the fire started in a flue between Razan’s and Great China restaurant next door. It broke out at 9:30 and was contained a short time later. Both restaurants were evacuated.

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  • Anonymous

    Will Razan’s be open today? I was planning to go there for lunch.

  • Anonymous

    the word is “flue,” not “flu”

  • Frances Dinkelspiel

    Thanks. That was 11:30 bleary-eyedness.

  • Don’t worry, the Daily Cal had it wrong too!

  • TN

    What terrible news. Great China has been one of our week night favorite spots now for decades.

  • MissingGreatChinaAlready

    What a terrible thing to happen at any time, but especially during Chinese New Year!  Any estimate as to when they’ll reopen?

  • Current student

    It wasn’t a very good restaurant anyway.  No big loss.

  • Foster

    James Yu, the second generation owner, said it would be six months before they will be able to reopen.  James’ wonderful wine collection was lost.

  • Matthew Kelleher

    Great China is a great restaurant; I’ve been eating there for years and think James and Mike do a fabulous job in a very competitive enviroment.  I take exception to callous remarks like “No big loss”.  This is someone’s livelihood; it employes many people; it is part of a long standing group of good Berkeley businesses.  I can understand when someone says “I don’t care for this restaurant” or “I didn’t have a good experience there”.  Loss is something we are supposed to feel compassion for; obvious “Current Student” has none.  Hopes for a speedy and full recovery Great China !!

  • joan winnek

    I’m so sorry. We only recently heard about how good this restaurant is/was, and had planned to eat there soon.

  • Balesandrini

    Oh, my heart and best thoughts goes out to all.  Great China is one of lour favorites, especially their honey walnut prawns–no one makes them the way they do.  And their garlic bok choy.  You just have to imagine our little granddaughter, last year, greeting the delighted server with ‘Gung hay fat choy’  requesting bok choy, and proceeding to devour the better part of the order.! 

  • Lu2x4ah

    Grow a heart. Liking a restaurant or not and having compassion for a sad event that affects the lives of people are two entirely different things. 

  • Carboncopy

    Sending positive thoughts to Great China’s owners, staff, and the diners who loved it. Looking forward to eating here once it is open again. In the mean time, Great China, you will be missed! 

  • Awful news. A wonderful spot for Chinese food–especially if you take the time to dig deep in their wine list. All of my roommates’ stomachs and livers are crying out for peking duck and Cote-de-Nuits today.

  • Peter and Norma Lydon

    The Great China is a quietly superior restaurant.  The food is excellent, the prices reasonable, the staff extremely hardworking and the management remarkably capable and devoted to keeping up the high quality of their place.  Hope that the Yu family and their workers will recover quickly from the fire.  We’ll miss it during the closure, and are eager to be back.