James Warholak has been charged with arson in the fire that engulfed much of the hip Doug Katz eatery Katz Club Diner. Charged, obviously innocent until proven guilty, but at the same time kudos go out to Cleveland Heights Fire and Police for nabbing the suspect so quickly.
When I woke Tuesday morning to see this horrible news I was deeply saddened by what I was seeing live on my TV. I usually shake out my morning cobwebs watching Fox 8 News in the morning and I was in absolute disbelief. Just a few weeks before I had the occasion to visit the restaurant on business and got a tour from Doug himself.
The Katz Club Diner is not only an amazing eatery, but also one hell of a piece of architecture. I sat in that car noticing the painstaking attention to detail it took to turn this labor of love into a reality for Chef Katz. The dark wood grain, and smokey lighting made it feel like I was on bar car of a train somewhere back in the 50’s. Even the glassware seemed period. The time, effort and cash it took to bring this car back to life is nothing short of amazing.
I am sad I never got the chance to actually eat there. I am not sure what the plans are for renovations. From photos I see on the news the dining car looks absolutely roached. Much of the diner wasn’t touched (There are two sides of the restaurant). The Cleveland Fire Department was able to put it out pretty quick, but possibly not quick enough to salvage the car. Only time will tell how extensive the damage was.
If James Warholak indeed did set this blaze one has to question his motives. Had he known Katz as the community knows him I don’t think he would have struck a match. Doug is a great guy. I know this seeing him donating his time and talents to multiple charity events. He cares about his community and is just an all around good guy. My suggestion to everyone that knows Katz is to get on Open Table and blow up his reservations for the next few weeks. Make an excuse to go out and support him and his restaurants. Head out to Shaker Square and have dinner at Fire Food and Drink. Support this guy, support his staff, support his community.