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Mudgie’s Deli Reopens for Carryout As Officials Investigate Suspected Arson [Updated]

Fire investigators are calling the small blaze a likely arson

Two firefighteres wearing black and neon yellow uniforms and yellow hard hats holding a ladder next to a brick building.
Detroit firefighters working to extinguish a small blaze at Mudgie’s Deli and Wine Bar on the morning of Thursday, March 10, 2022. Investigators say the fire was likely set intentionally.
Serena Maria Daniels

Mudgie’s Deli and Wine Bar has reopened for carryout only, a day after a small fire broke out outside of the building. Detroit fire investigators say the fire that damaged the rear of Corktown’s iconic eatery was intentionally set.

Workers and Mudge’s wife Liza Pulgini were seen at the restaurant Thursday morning but declined to comment. The business posted a notice on social media announcing the restaurant would be closed for the day but have not provided any updates. On Friday, a worker who answered the business’s phone said she was not sure if the eatery would be opening that day either. However, the restaurant has since provided an update on social media that Mudgie’s would not be serving breakfast Friday, but that carryout would be available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. while supplies last. The fire “has impacted a portion of our operation,” according to the post.

“The damage assessment is ongoing and we will have to make some pivots to our service model. We are really mastering pivots at this point!” the post says.

Chief fire investigator Dennis Richardson confirmed to Eater on Thursday evening that the arson unit has begun interviewing neighbors and is looking to review surrounding surveillance tape to gather more details about what could have caused the blaze.

“We’re not trying to give out too many details at this point right now. It’s still too early in investigation but we are okay with saying the firing was intentionally set,” Richardson said.

Fire crews were called twice on March 10 to put out the fire, the first time just after 4:30 a.m. and again at about 9 a.m. because the flames had rekindled. The blaze took place in the rear of the smaller building on the property that faces Brooklyn Street. The building did not appear to suffer significant structural damage, but it was not immediately clear whether potential water or smoke damage would have a long-term impact on operations.

Mudgie’s had become a fixture in the Corktown neighborhood, racking up national accolades for its house-smoked meats and sauces since Greg Mudge, founded the deli in 2008. The establishment had formerly been known as Eph McNally’s, where Mudge was a server.

Mudge died unexpectedly from heart failure on September 5 at the age of 46. Last month, the James Beard Foundation nominated the popular eatery for Outstanding Hospitality in recognition for Mudge’s always welcoming personality.

Update: March 11, 2022, 12:01 p.m.: This story has been updated throughout to reflect the latest information.

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