Victor Minichiello stood behind yellow caution tape, peering between two cleanup trucks toward the charred rubble of his popular Italian restaurant, Sal’s by Victor.
When the wind shifts a smoky smell is carried on the air, past the other stores in the strip mall that are reopening one by one, past crews of men clearing out blackened debris, past a large wooden board set up by a local Boy Scout troop that has been signed over and over by supporters of Sal’s.
Sal’s by Victor was destroyed by a fire Tuesday morning, a blaze so intense 75 firefighters from as far away as Newport News were called in to help put it out.
Victor, as he is widely known to his Williamsburg friends, has barely slept since then.
“I’m drained, man. I’m out of energy, you know what I mean? I don’t sleep — I can’t sleep. I come here, I think the place is still here, you know? You know you go to the same place for so many years, it’s like, I’m here, I have nothing to do here,” he said Friday. “I’m like somebody who loses a son or a significant other, you are at the grave everyday, looking around and you can do nothing, you’re just there, you know?”