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Hot java: Fire breaks out above historic Caffè Reggio on MacDougal St.

BY STEPHEN DiLAURO | A kitchen fire broke out in an apartment above the famed Caffè Reggio on MacDougal Street early Sunday evening. Firefighters’ arrival led to an evacuation of the building, according to residents.

“It was about 7:30. I smelled smoke and opened my door and the halls were full of smoke. I closed the door and called 911,” said one resident, who preferred that his name be withheld. “They were here before I could get my shoes on.”

(Photo by A. Cianciulli)

According to F.D.N.Y. Battalion Chief Rockefeller, the fire was in the kitchen of a second-floor apartment. It apparently spread when something forgotten on the stove caught fire. No one was injured, according to Rockefeller.

Dozens of firefighters were on the scene. Hoses were deployed to douse the flames. This led to water damage to the apartment below and to the historic sidewalk cafe. The extent of the damage inside the cafe was limited to three tables in the back corner. A full damage assessment is expected to take place on Monday, according to owner Fabrizio Cavallacci.

(Photo by A. Cianciulli)

Crowds gathered on the sidewalk on both sides of the renowned thoroughfare to gawk. The cafe was back in full service, minus three tables, half an hour after the F.D.N.Y. departed.

Crowds gathered on both sides of the street to gawk. (Photo by A. Cianciulli)

Caffe Reggio is famed as the first purveyor of cappuccino in New York City. The historic cappuccino machine used in the cafe’s early years is on display, adjacent to the tables. It was undamaged.


  1. steve stollman steve stollman March 26, 2024

    The pretty red coffee grinder displayed in the window was probably claimed from time to time to be the original also, but the truth is I actually sold it to them ages ago after, incredibly, finding it abandoned on some sidewalk. I always preferred the Figaro with its endless supply of chessboards and eclectic crowd back when I was in high school in the ’50s. I’m not sure it was the high culture that I was soaking up. More likely, I think I was probably dreaming of being spotted there by a free-love-believing young lady and being transported to another dimension.

  2. Patricia Patricia March 26, 2024

    Hooray for the speedy response by the fire department!

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