Fire heavily damages Plate restaurant in Kansas City’s Brookside area

A fire early Thursday heavily damaged Plate restaurant, a popular destination in the Brookside area of Kansas City.

Firefighters responded to the restaurant in the 6200 block of Oak Street about 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

No one was injured.

Battalion Chief Kevin Hunt with the Kansas City Fire Department said that when firefighters first arrived, they found extensive fire in the ceiling.

Thick, black smoke along with flames were seen coming from the roof of the restaurant. Additional firefighters were sent to the scene. By the time all the crews arrived, about 40 firefighters battled the blaze.

When firefighters entered the building, which houses the restaurant and other business, they found extensive fire in the cockloft area, Hunt said.

A cockloft is a small space above the ceiling but below the roof of a building.

“The crews did the best they could to get ahead of it and cut it off and save the structure,” Hunt said. “It (fire) was traveling south at a pretty high rate.”

The fire’s cause has not been determined.

The restaurant had just finished renovations and had recently expanded its dining room because it was so popular.

“There was extensive damage to the Plate restaurant,” Hunt said. “The structure was saved, so they will be able to rebuild.”

The building’s owner, James Dalton, said the fire is very upsetting, partly because they had just remodeled the building and updated all of the wiring.

He said he would rebuild.

“This is a magnificent building,” said Dalton, who owned Dalton Interiors inside the building for 61 years. “It’s one of the prettiest buildings around.”

The Dalton family owns other buildings in the area, including the Hammerspace Community Workshop and MakerSpace, just around the corner.

The popular makerspace announced this week it would leave Brookside after being denied zoning changes following neighborhood complaints.

Fire investigators have not determined the cause of the fire or whether it was intentionally set. Bomb and arson investigators are on the scene, which is standard practice.

“The reason they have bomb and arson here is that they have the ability to arrest if it is suspicious or if we find something,” Hunt said. “KCPD steps in for that.”

The fire started on the east side of the building. It was too early to tell if the fire originated inside or outside the building, Hunt said.

At the rear of the building were separate grease and linen dumpsters, but it was unknown if this was where the fire originated, Hunt said.

Residents in the neighborhood gathered on the sidewalks to see the damage.

“It’s sad to see it burned,” said Leslie Lawson, who went to the restaurant from time to time.

“This is a loss for the neighborhood,” she said.

Her neighborhood association had meetings and wine tastings there.

“The food was fabulous,” said Katherine Torbett. “It was a neighborhood attraction. … This is sad.”

Lawson recalled that when the restaurant opened about 1  1/2 years ago, it was so popular people had to get reservations. There was a waiting list of about two months.

The restaurant’s owner, Christian Joseph, stood on the sidewalk across the street watching the firefighters work. He was surrounded by his employees as he called his insurance company.

Joseph declined to comment, saying he was trying to take it all in.

There were some power lines in the rear of the building that proved a challenge for firefighters to get access to the building until KCP&L crews disconnected them.

Another challenge for firefighters was that the building has undergone multiple renovations over the years, which included the addition of heating and cooling ducts.

“We have fought these types of fires before,” Hunt said. “We know that when it gets in a cockloft in a commercial structure like this, you have to get ahead of it or you could lose the entire structure. The guys did a great job doing that.”

Robert A. Cronkleton: 816-234-4261, @cronkb

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