BROOKSVILLE - A fire that destroyed Papa Joe's Italian Restaurant started in the ceiling above the main dining area early Friday and was caused by an electrical malfunction, Hernando County Fire Rescue confirmed Monday.
Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Carroll said the State Fire Marshal's Office continues to investigate as is the insurer for property owners, Joe and Donna Giarratana.
"It definitely started in the ceiling above the main dining area, and was the result of some electrical malfunction," Carroll said. "(The Fire Marshal's Office) couldn't narrow it down to the air handler, or lighting, but it did start in that area."
More details will be provided as they become available. There are at least a couple upcoming events planned to help raise funds for those who lost jobs due to the fire. A performance of Judah Ben-Hur, the musical based on the blockbuster Ben Hur by Lew Wallace, will benefit the employees of the 32-year-old Brooksville eatery who lost their jobs because of the fire. Judah Ben-Hur, the Musical will be performed at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church, at 200 Mt. Fair Ave. in Brooksville on Friday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. Doors open one half-hour earlier for coffee, tea and dessert, according to a release.
A donation of $5 to $15 per person is requested, and all admissions include coffee, tea and dessert.
Special Tee-shirts with "I Love Papa Joe's" will be sold at all remaining performances, the release states, and shirts are $15 each, or 2 for $20. ALL tee-shirt proceeds will be used to benefit the employees' fund. Checks may be made payable to Papa Joe's Relief Fund.
For more information go to www.LiveOakTheatre.org or call the box office at 352-593-0027, or go to their "Live Oak Theatre" Facebook page.
Live Oak Theatre is also collaborating with Kiwanis Club of Brooksville Ridge to manufacture and sell 1,000 t-shirts, which will be sold at various outlets with all net proceeds going to the employees.
T-shirts are $15 each or two for $20, and will be specifically available at the following Brooksville locations:
?? Capricci Gifts, at 6230 Spring Lake Highway. Capricci Gifts is located next to Papa Joes and is open from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
??At the Live Oak Theatre/YWAM performances of Judah Ben Hur, at 200 Mt Fair Avenue on Jan. 30 at 11 a.m., and Jan. 31 at 7 p.m.
?? Feb. 1 at Papa Joe's parking lot at 6244 Spring Lake Highway. Kiwanis Club of Brooksville Ridge is underwriting the production cost and Live Oak Theatre is organizing the manufacture (with Logo Outfitters) and distribution. Also LRE Ground Services has made a substantial donation to help defray costs and allow for larger net proceeds going to the employees, according to a release by the club.
The fundraiser is the brainchild of David Heggland of Logo Outfitters and Randi Olsen, artistic director of Live Oak Theatre, who contacted LOTs communications director Vince Vanni and John Ehlenbeck of the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville Ridge. Heggland and Olsen are members of Divine Music trio, with Jessica Giarrantana Lucas.
"Papa Joe and his staff were early and steadfast supporters of Live Oak Theatre. It's time for us to give back," said Randi Olsen. Papa Joe Giarrantana is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Brooksville Ridge, they said.
A trust fund is being set up for the benefit of the employees. People wishing to pay by check should make them payable to Papa Joe's Relief Fund.
For more information call Papa Joe Giarrantana at (352) 585-7557. Those wishing to purchase large amounts of t-shirts should email VinceVanni@tampabay.rr.com.