Explosion and fire causes restaurant to stay closed

Texas Chicken & Burgers (c) experienced a gas explosion the day before its grand opening.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

A Pelham Bay restaurant, about to reopen after it was damaged in a car accident a few months back, was destroyed in a gas explosion.

Texas Chicken & Burgers, the revamped restaurant located at 3275 Westchester Avenue, a few hundred feet from the IRT#6 Pelham Bay station, was seriously damaged after a gas leak ignited a fire on Wednesday, September 30.

The occurrence took place shortly before 5 p.m. the day before the restaurant’s planned reopening.

In response to the incident, approximately 25 units and 100 firefighters and EMS personal were called to the location.

Neighboring businesses, Peghe Deli and Gana Wine Spirits, were mostly affected by smoke and water damage.

According to the FDNY, two firefighters sustained non-life threatening injuries.

There were no injuries to civilians.

This is not the first time a horrific accident has taken place at this restaurant site.

This past June, an elderly driver lost control of his vehicle while backing into a parking space and struck three dining customers, killing seven-year old Ethan Villavicencio and injuring Ethan’s father and sister.

At the time, the restaurant went by the name of ‘Kennedy’s Chicken & Sandwiches’.

Following the tragedy, the restaurant closed and underwent months of renovation.

According to an employee from Crosby Cleaners, which is located two doors down, the restaurant was expected to open the day on Thursday, October 1 .

As a result of the fire, the restaurant will remain closed, adding another sad chapter to the restaurant’s unfortunate recent history.

It is unknown when the restaurant will reopen.

“Bad luck – that’s what it is,” said Ed Romeo, resident and former president of the Pelham Bay Taxpayers, referring to both incidents. “It’s tough to see situations like this take place, especially when it is happening in your own neighborhood and you see residents of your area who are victims, like that kid (Ethan) who was killed.”

“It’s another freak accident,” said John Korres, community liaison for Assemblyman Benedetto. “It’s horrible and very unfortunate that two incidents can happen at the same location in that short of a time span.”

Reach Reporter Steven Goodstein at (718) 742–3384. E-mail him at sgoodstein@cnglocal.com.

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