Firefighters from Akron and neighboring Fairlawn continued into the afternoon to tackle a lingering fire that started Friday morning at Pavona’s Pizza Joint and Mickey’s Irish Pub on Sand Run Road, just off West Market Street .
Tim Morrison, public information officer for Akron Fire, said no one was injured in the blaze and no cause has yet been determined. Fairlawn provided mutual aid. Dominion Energy arrived on the scene to shut down the natural gas lines.
Two ladder trucks continued to pour water from above for more than two hours. Six other fire engines also intervened. Firefighters on the roof of the nearby Sand Run Pharmacy directed the flow of water from the ladder trucks, Morrison said.
At 1:30 p.m., only one of the ladder trucks continued to put water on the building, with firefighters at the time searching for hot spots in what remained of the structure. Fairlawn firefighters were preparing to leave, Morrison said.
“It’s gone down a lot,” Morrison said of the fire. Akron Fire Department investigators at 1:30 a.m. had not been to the site to try to determine how the fire started, he said.
It was apparent that little was left of the two companies within hours of the discovery of the fire.
At its peak, thick smoke billowed from the blaze and blanketed the Pilgrim Square business district along the busy West Market corridor for more than two hours after firefighters were dispatched at 9.40am; authorities closed the road and a section of Sand Run Road from Market North to Wiltshire Road.
The owners of the building, who operate both the restaurant and the pub, were seen gathered near the building but declined to be questioned as firefighters continued to work on the scene.
“They dedicated their whole lives to it,” Elise Beach said of the owners as she watched the fire. She briefly worked at Pavona as a dishwasher and said she had friends who also worked there. She and her father would go to restaurants to eat, usually ordering a Margherita pizza.
“Theirs was really good. You could tell it was really fresh,” Beach said. “Everyone loved this place.”
Neighbor Shawn McKee said it was heartbreaking to watch the building burn.
Pavona’s “is a neighborhood and an institution of Akron,” she said. “It’s more than just a restaurant.” It was there that she met her fiancé, she says.
The pizzeria opened in 2016 in a building that Vaccaro’s Pizza had operated on and off for several decades.
McKee said she felt devastated for her owners. “They are caring people. They have a lot of love for the community.”
Ann Manby, who lives nearby, brought a case of bottled water to the scene for first responders.
“I’m just sad for the owners and the neighborhood,” she said. “It was great to have a small family business in the neighborhood.”
Manby said the owners were kind to his wife and daughter.
“It’s going to be very difficult to come back,” Manby said. “They’ve just been an anchor. It’s such a shame. … Their pizza is phenomenal. They have some of the best pizza in town. Hopefully they can rebuild.”
Another neighbor, Kat Miller, stared sadly at the fire. She said she had been a customer of Pavona since the restaurant opened and had helped decorate the place at Christmas.
“It’s a huge loss. It really is,” Miller said. “Hopefully they can rebuild soon.”
Surrounding businesses closed their stores as firefighters worked and smoke consumed the area; electricity and gas were cut in some nearby buildings as crews tended to the scene.