Firetrucks lined the streets outside of Tavernetta last night, but this time, it wasn’t for an emergency. They gathered there to celebrate.

In late September, a kitchen fire ignited in Tavernetta, forcing it to close just eight days after opening. What was expected to be few-day setback turned into seven weeks — leaving the restaurant’s doors closed for repairs until yesterday evening. Although it reopens to the public November 9, the Tavernetta team opened last night to host the entire Denver Fire Department that helped them during the fire.

READ: Frasca Team Opens Tavernetta – Denver’s Newest Italian Restaurant

“When we closed that night of the fire, it was super traumatic,” general manager Justin Williams explained to us last night. “I left not knowing how long we’d be down, but it’s amazing to be back in the space serving guests again. Having the firefighters here on the first evening back was the first priority — we’re honored to be serving them all night.”

“We were lucky that we were able to get here quickly and stop it before it did too much damage,” Denver Fire Department Captain Greg Pixley added.

The restaurant was bustling with other friends and family, but you couldn’t help but notice the trucks — and more than 30 uniformed firefighters — surrounding the space. It was truly joyful to witness.

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“This is a special evening for us,” Pixley explained. “Firefighters don’t often get to meet people that they help after an incident. The collaboration between the restaurant owners and fire department has been amazing — it’s great to see the Tavernetta team be so appreciative of what we call work and so willing to pay it forward.”

Tavernetta kept and paid its entire staff during the seven-week closure, even sending some to stage at Michelin-starred restaurants in San Francisco, New York City and Boulder at Tavernetta’s sister restaurant Frasca. Co-owner Bobby Stuckey trained for the New York City Marathon — which he ran in 2:55:20 — three days before Tavernetta reopened.

“We have staff that has worked in restaurants their entire lives,” Williams said. “For many, this was their first true break from work. Some volunteered, others worked on hobbies they’ve yet to explore. It was amazing to see everyone come together throughout the time we were closed.”

The energy inside Tavernetta last night was better than ever — and one could easily say the same about the food. Although some of the dishes from the opening remain on the menu, it’s also updated for the fall season. New arrivals like the Insalata di Stagione ($13) scream fall with celery root, apple, pomegranate and farro. And the Agnolotti dal Plin ($17) — also a new addition — may be one of the best things we’ve ever had. With a traditional meat filling, chestnut and black trumpet mushroom, its unique flavor profile evolves as you eat it, making for a truly decadent experience.

The day after the restaurant’s original opening, we asked Williams how he felt, to which he replied, “it’s great to be done with the opening, but it’s not over. We just started.”

After seven weeks of unanticipated hardship, he stands behind those words more than ever.

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