Grégoire, known for ‘cult status’ potato puffs, reopens after closing due to fire

Davíd Rodríguez/Senior Staff

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Update 5/12/2019: This article has been updated to include information from Grégoire owner Tara Jacquet.

Grégoire, a restaurant known for its “cult status” potato puffs, temporarily closed down April 1 after a kitchen fire. According to owner Tara Jacquet, the restaurant will reopen for business on Monday, with regular hours.

Grégoire, founded by Grégoire Jacquet in 2002, is an eatery that specializes in French fast food. Last May, Grégoire’s potato puffs were featured on San Francisco Magazine’s list of “125 Best Things to Eat.” The restaurant has also been featured on food critic Jonathan Kauffman’s “Top Ten” list, according to Grégoire’s website.

Potato puffs are not the restaurant’s only specialty; its fried chicken sandwiches and french fries are also among customer favorites, according to comments on Grégoire’s Facebook page.

“I wanted it to be a nice little neighborhood restaurant. … I’ve been working here for 16 years, and seeing the restaurant being burned is a pretty big hit,” Jacquet said. “I never pictured walking into the restaurant and seeing it like this torn apart, burned.”

On the morning of the fire, Jacquet’s catering manager was preparing to cater for 200 people at a UC Berkeley School of Law event. She preheated the oven and went to the back of the restaurant for a half-hour. By the time she came back, there was a fire, according to Jacquet.

Berkeley Fire Department received a call about 8:20 a.m. from a Grégoire employee and arrived on the scene at 8:23 a.m. The Fire Department was able to quickly control the fire by 8:38 a.m. because the employee turned on the extinguishing system, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Keith May.

May reported that the fire started in the vicinity of the stove and that the actual cause of the fire is still being investigated. While there was smoke damage to the walls and ceilings of Grégoire, there was no damage to the apartments located above the restaurant.

According to Jacquet, the total cost of cleaning and rebuilding the restaurant is estimated to be $15,000 to $20,000 and $40,000 to $50,000, respectively. Jacquet is in the process of working with his insurance company to see what expenses it will cover. He hopes that it will cover the damages sustained by the restaurant and the salaries of his 13 employees while the repairs continue.

Jacquet thanks the community for its support, ranging from his customers’ words of kindness to a neighboring restaurant offering to help him figure things out. While Jacquet does not know the exact date of Grégoire’s reopening, he stated that the restaurant will remain closed for at least two to three more weeks.

“I feel responsible for me not being able to open and serve the people, so I want to apologize to my customers for not being able to provide what they like,” Jacquet said.

Contact Aishwarya Kaimal at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @Aishwarya_R_K‏.

A previous version of the photo credit accompanying this article misspelled Davíd Rodríguez’s name.