A POPULAR gastropub has been forced to close a week before its first birthday after its kitchen was gutted by fire.
Staff at The OX in Broughton had been looking forward to the milestone celebrations and to the ringing tills of Edinburgh festivals season.
The kitchen is a write-off and there is a lot of smoke damage all around the barJoe Humphrey
Instead they are counting the costs after a faulty fridge caught fire in the early hours of Monday.
The blaze, which caused thousands of pounds worth of damage, was so fierce it melted plastic, blackened metal and ruined the inside of the bar.
Previously known as the Bellevue and the Mezz Bar, The OX opened under new ownership on the first weekend in August last year after being completely refurbished.
Pub owner Joe Humphrey, a former manager at The Shore Bar and Restaurant in Leith, said staff had been getting ready to see in a “successful” first year when they learned of the blaze.
And now they have had to put celebrations on ice until the pub has been restored.
He said: “We were coming up to our first birthday and this was our first venture.
“Business has been great and it was getting busier and busier, so to be knocked off your feet like this is upsetting.
“But we are very positive people. I have no doubt we will reopen.”
Mr Humphrey said he hoped the venue would be back in business in a fortnight.
However, the clean-up alone will take “at least a week” and insurers are now investigating the damage.
He added: “The kitchen is a write-off and there is a lot of smoke damage all around the bar. The plastic in the kitchen has just melted and the stainless steel is completely black.
“The carpet is going to have to go and the place will have to be cleaned and repainted.”
The pub employs about 15 staff.
The pub had been empty at the time of the fire, but smoke was seen billowing out as firefighters evacuated overhead flats.
London Street, including the roundabout at the bottom Broughton Street, was sealed off by police until the blaze was extinguished, which took about 15 minutes.
Three engines from the McDonald Road fire station and one from Tollcross scrambled to the burning pub after the alarm went off at 5am.
A spokesman for the fire service confirmed that residents in the flats directly above the restaurant were evacuated for around 45 minutes while crews checked whether the blaze had spread.