Napolatano's repairs near completion

Electrician Bob Edmondson of George Grimm Electric Inc., works on Napolatano's restaurant Tuesday.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 1:07 a.m.
Like the Phoenix, Napolatano's is rising from the ashes. And like the mythical Phoenix, its rebirth will produce a better version.
This one will have an internal sprinkler system, something the original 26-year-old building did not have.
The popular Italian restaurant - its fans included former University of Florida football coach Steve Spurrier and rock band Sister Hazel - was extensively damaged mid-morning Aug. 16 when a fire broke. About 45 firefighters from around Alachua County battled the blaze for 20 minutes before it was extinguished.
John Tumbleson of Calrey Construction said work has been underway for several months to repair the building at 606 NW 75th St., just off Tower Road. Most of the original roof was destroyed, particularly over the kitchen area, he said.
An interior sprinkler system is being installed by W.W. Gay Fire and Integrated Systems and after that is completed Tumbleson will begin installing insulation and hanging drywall.
All the kitchen equipment except for one salvaged pizza oven is being replaced. Tumbleson said no modifications are being made to the layout of the interior, which includes several dining rooms, a large L-shaped wooden bar and three banquet rooms, including a patio.
"When we are through, it will look like a brand new building inside," he said.
The restaurant started on Newberry Road before moving into the nearby strip mall on Tower Road in 1984 and finally settling in 1989 in the 5,500-square-foot building, according to owners Dean and Ginger Nappy. It was not required to have the fire-suppression system since it was "grandfathered in" when that law went into effect.
While Tumbleson said he work could be completed by early 2006, it's probably not soon enough for longtime patrons.
"There's not a day goes by that half-a-dozen people don't straggle in here with a surprised look," he said.
Alachua County Department of Growth Management Building Official Carol Hurst also laughed when asked if work was under way.
"After the fire, we were inundated by calls - everyone from the Touchdown Club to practically God - hoping we could hurry the permitting through," she said.
Spurrier celebrated many of his team's victories at the restaurant, and it was prominently featured in the Sister Hazel's 2004 documentary/concert DVD "A Life in the Day."
Marina Blomberg can be reached at 374-5025 or

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