By Ben Fractenberg and Nicole Bode
EAST VILLAGE – A fire broke out in an East Village Japanese restaurant Friday morning and was quickly brought under control, fire officials said.
The blaze started just after 8 a.m. at Otafuku restaurant at 236 E. 9th Street near Second Ave., fire officials said. There were no injuries and the fire was brought under control by 8:28 a.m., officials said.
Manager Brian Sanchez, 36, said one of the grills appeared to have been left on overnight and was starting to burn a wooden partition that separated the grill from the customers by the time Sanchez arrived at 8 a.m. Fire had also started to char a support beam at the front of the restaurant near the door, he said.
Sanchez said he put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. The FDNY had to smash open the front window to release the smoke, and also tore up the charred beams to ensure that all embers were extinguished. The restaurant officially opens at 1 p.m.
The tiny first-floor Japanese restaurant serves sushi and other items like Takoyabi, or fried wheat-flour balls, and Yakisoba, or Japanese noodles, according to its menu.
The restaurant is located next door to the Cloister Café, which has an outdoor garden alongside Otafuku.