Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Smoke billows around firefighters Monday on the roof of the former Marino’s restaurant on Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge. (Photos: Charles Teague)

A fire has destroyed some of the roof at the former Marino’s restaurant, now empty for some five years on Massachusetts Avenue in North Cambridge and being prepped for use possibly as a day care facility.

The fire, which began at about 3:20 p.m. as workers (accompanied by a truck aiding the use of acetylene torches) cut away large mechanical structures such as air-conditioning units or smoke scrubbers, lasted roughly a quarter of an hour and drew some 10 firetrucks, including some from nearby Somerville, according to residents watching their work. Traffic was blocked through 3:54 p.m., when Cambridge officials tweeted that the fire was out; southbound traffic was opened at 4:25 p.m., with the northbound lane due to follow shortly.

The site, 7,052 square feet assessed at $1.6 million, was sought by foodies organizing a community kitchen, but their bid did not come in time; Marino’s professional cooking equipment began to be moved out about a month ago. Some of it remains outside the restaurant today, neighbor Charles Teague said.

Teague believed fire damage was restricted to the roof, but he wasn’t sure the extent of water damage inside from firefighting efforts.

The 2465 Massachusetts Ave. restaurant was opened in 1990 by Modern Continental construction head Les Marino, along with a still-active health center across the street, but closed in the summer of 2006 after Marino’s death. It has been empty since, alarming neighbors and drawing occasional interest from businesses seeking a home.

A message seeking more information was left Monday with fire officials.