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Taboon on the corner of W52nd Street and 10th Avenue is closed following a fire that broke out in the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurant just after midnight on May 16. Staff at the restaurant believe the closure will be for at least six months.
“We are sorry to report that Taboon recently suffered a fire and extensive water damage,” the restaurant announced on Instagram last week. “Thankfully, no one was hurt. The owners are very committed to reopening as soon as possible and bringing back the delicious wood-fired delicacies that have delighted guests from all over the world for the last 17 years. Please stay tuned as we create something even better than before.”
Though everyone in the building remained safe, several tenants have been displaced by the fire and suffered the loss of nearly all their belongings. The building is owned by Clinton Housing Development Company, and a spokesperson for CDHC told us they were working to relocate and find homes for their residents.
“A fire spread among several apartments in the building, and 8 families were forced to relocate,” said Erik Bottcher, who has helped set up a fundraiser for those displaced. “There were no serious injuries but smoke and water damage destroyed most of their belongings. It will be approximately 6 months until the apartments are habitable again.”
A GoFundMe set up to provide aid to the affected families is over halfway to its $25,000 goal. The funds will be distributed among the families.
Firefighters confirmed the kitchen fire around 12:52am and worked with all hands to contain the flames, according to data from Citizen. By 1:24am they had controlled the main body of the fire but required an additional truck to get the flames fully extinguished around 2:35am, about one hour and a half after the fire was first reported. Multiple searches of the building ensured that no tenants were hurt, though one firefighter sustained minor injuries.
Chef Efi Naon opened Taboon in Hell’s Kitchen in 2004 with over 25 years of kitchen experience in Israel, France, and Greece. The restaurant gained rave reviews and became quickly known for its use of the eponymous white-domed oven. “Taboon is why I came to New York,” he told W42ST, when he shared his five-ingredient recipe for Moroccan-style meatballs. “It’s the first restaurant here that served modern Israeli – or ‘middleterranean’ cuisine – that was awarded two stars by Frank Bruni. We cook most of our food in a wood-burning oven and we were one of the first to do that as well.”
A few years later, Chef Efi took a seven-year hiatus from Taboon for stints at the Flatiron District’s Barbounia and Bustan on the Upper West Side, but returned in 2015 as executive chef and partner. Together with partners Gadi Ruham and Danny Hodak, he expanded the menu offerings at Taboon and began focusing on Taboonette, a more casual iteration of the restaurant in Union Square.