Fire destroys popular Blue Store Restaurant in Livingston

A fire at the well-known Historic Blue Store Restaurant in Livingston March 15 destroyed much of the structure, leaving the building and its owners, Darrin and Tara Buffa, devastated.

“It was karaoke night,” Darrin Buffa recalled. “I left as usual and I met my wife at the front door of my home. She said there was a fire at the restaurant. When I got there, it was burning.”

Buffa grew up in Livingston and said he had worked as a dishwasher at the restaurant when he was 14, back in the 1970’s when it was the Stagecoach Inn. Before that, he added, “My mom worked there.”

According to a statement released by State Police March 15, the Livingston Fire Department responded to the fire at approximately 1:45am, and 18 other fire departments also went to the scene at the intersection of Routes 9 and 31.

“The State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation was requested to assist at the scene due to the large structure size, significant damage and monetary loss of the historic building,” the police statement said, noting that the cause of the fire is still under investigation. As of March 18, the state’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control confirmed the investigation is continuing.

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, which, according to local media reports, took firefighters five hours to get under control. The Livingston Fire Department declined to comment.

Buffa said he was told by an investigator that the fire started on the second floor, but the cause is still undetermined. He also acknowledged that the restaurant had been for sale for more than a year, but, he added, that didn’t stop him and his wife from putting their heart and soul into it.

“Something as old as that building needs a lot of care,” he said. “It was a task to keep everything going. We’re now missing a big part of our lives.”

The Historic Blue Store Restaurant was originally the home of the Walter Tryon Livingston family in the early 1800’s. According to Buffa, it was a hotel for 150 years until the Buffas bought it and turned it into a popular restaurant four years ago. Buffa said the previous owners had done the main renovations and he and his wife had upgraded some kitchen equipment and the banquet hall.

“We have a lot of memories, from wing night Thursdays, karaoke night and the live bands on Saturday,” he said. “We made a lot of friends there.”

Buffa said much of the rear of the structure was destroyed, including the banquet hall and the kitchen. Only part of the front is still standing. He would like to rebuild but because of the ongoing investigation into the cause of the fire, he can’t do anything yet.

“At this point, everything is up in the air,” he said. “We lost a lot. It’s just a memory now.”

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