The Fire is out at Gulf Place

Published: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 04:44 PM.

The lights have gone out at Restaurant Fire.

The recent second-time winner of a Florida Trend Golden Spoon award, the Gulf Place restaurant is no more as of this week.

Fire owner Brenda Darr declined an extended interview about the closing but did say the decision did not come easy. But for her at this time, "it was the right thing to do."

Director of Operations Mario McNally said his former boss just wanted to be able to spend more time with her family in Atlanta , where she will move.

"Her son lives there and she has new twin granddaughters she wants to spend time with. She's been working it a long time and when you work in the restaurant business, you don't get time off to spend with family," said McNally. "It has been hard. She was like a mother to me."

Darr hired McNally as a server when she opened the original Fire restaurant in an old abandoned fire station in New Orleans in 2005. After Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans , the restaurant floundered and Darr made the decision to move it to South Walton. Eight of her loyal staff followed her in a caravan down Interstate 10 to a new beginning at the beach. She opened Fire in Grayton on July 13, 2007. It moved to Gulf Place in 2011.

Darr sold the restaurant to third-generation restaurant-owner Drew Messina of New Orleans . She did not publicly list it for sale, but through mutual friends Messina heard of a possible opportunity and met with her.

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