Fire decimates Countryside Deli

Rubble surrounds the Countryside Deli after a recent fire tore through it. (Justin Toran-Burrell/The Phoenix)

The upturned Coca-Cola-branded umbrellas and blackened rubble, strewn about in what used to be an outdoor dining area, are testaments to the chaos caused by the fire that swept through Countryside & Deli on December 24th. The blaze destroyed the restaurant along with the residential space on the top floors that housed the owners of the Market, the Carrata family, all of whom escaped safely.

“We received the call at 6:27 am on Saturday the 24th saying there was a fire in the kitchen,” said Swarthmore Fire Chief Bob Jones. “It was a first alarm fire, a very typical alarm response for a building fire in the borough of Swarthmore.”

The building was made up of three parts: a house containing the dining room and living quarters, an addition built to hold the kitchen, and another addition stretching back from Yale street into the property. Of these, the house and 2nd addition remain standing – the kitchen burnt entirely to the ground, victim to an arbitrary architectural feature. Since it has no door to the outside, firefighters were forced to go through the only doors available.

“Our approach was through the front and through the back, so it was easier to concentrate our efforts on those parts and then work our way toward where the fire was,” said Swarthmore Fire Marshal Tom Moleski. “There wasn’t an exterior door that led directly into where the fire was.”

Chief Jones added that he was sad to see Countryside go. “I liked it there,” he said. “It had a nice atmosphere and good food.”

The market will also be missed by Swarthmore students who counted it among the local dining options. “They had a very extensive menu variety and all the items were very interesting but delicious,” said freshman Brady White. “The service was great and accommodating, and the atmosphere was homey and comforting.”

Though the official police investigation into the cause of the fire has not yet been completed, Fire Marshal Tom Moleski suggested it would be sometime in the coming week.

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