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Fire Destroys Popular Ambridge Restaurant

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Brian Grystar-KDKA

Brian Grystar-KDKA

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AMBRIDGE (KDKA) – Fire ripped through a restaurant and bar in Beaver County early Wednesday morning.

According to officials at the scene, the fire started around 1 a.m. at Rook’s Cantina 505 on Fourth Street in Ambridge.

The establishment was just closing up for the night, when owners Denise Romero and Martin Costanza smelled smoke.

“The only injury is probably our heart,” Romero said.

About 10 people were inside when the fire started, but everyone made it out safely. By the time they got their patrons outside, the building was engulfed in flames.

“So many things are just running through my mind right now. The most important thing is everyone made it out safe,” Romero said.

Romero and her husband bought Rook’s two months ago to the day and were just beginning to build their dream.

The sports bar grew in popularity over the last three decades under the ownership of former Pittsburgh Pirates World Series pitcher Jim Rooker.

“Just about every off-day, the Pirates would be in here and the Steelers. They’d bring the Pirate Parrot down about once a week. It was packed,” Costanza said.

Sports memorabilia covered the walls, including an autographed Chuck Noll football which sat in a display case.

Also inside were the original photos of Rooker’s famed unintentional walk from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh.

Rooker spoke to KDKA-TV’s Trina Orlando from his current home in Jacksonville, Fla. about opening day at what was then called, Rook’s East Side Saloon.

“I’ll never forget, I walk in the door and just off to the left L.C. Greenwood is sitting at one of our little high tops that we had in the corner there. And I’m just thinking, ‘You have to be kidding me. L.C. Greenwood came all the way out to Ambridge to be here?” Rooker said.

The current owners are humbled by the history and devastated by the loss.

“We were just honored to be part of this. Seriously, honored. I just don’t know what we’re going to do now. We’re still in shock,” Romero said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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