It was terrible to hear about the fire Monday morning at David Kinch's Manresa restaurant in Los Gatos, a culinary star that we're lucky to have in our backyard. And it reminded me of another blaze nearly 20 years ago, when a grease fire started at Original Joe's in downtown San Jose on June 23, 1995.

Owner Brad Rocca remembers that day well, as he was at work when it started. He and the staff didn't panic but shut off the hood fans to keep the fire from spreading through the ducts, opened the doors and called the Fire Department.

"Once they broke open the wood paneling in front of the hood, you could see just how bad it was burning," Rocca said Monday.

He and his brother, Matt Rocca, initially expressed hope they could be back in business by that weekend, but the reality was more than three months. That was an agonizing amount of time for some of us to go without veal parmigiana.

"I never worried about losing customers, and neither did my brother, Matt," said Rocca, who wished Manresa and its staff the speediest of recoveries. "Like the adage, sometimes you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. Well, I think many of our regular customers missed not being in their daily/weekly routine and were counting the days when we reopened. Fortunately for us, they all came back!"

Rocca also recalled a fire on the fifth floor of the restaurant's building in 1972. Times were apparently different then, as the Fire Department didn't immediately order the restaurant evacuated and diners refused to leave their meals unless the fire reached the second floor. It didn't, and they kept eating as firefighters battled the blaze.

IT RUNS ON THE SUN: Electric cars are all the rage right now, but could solar-powered cars be the next thing on the horizon? The Phoenix, a solar-powered car built by engineering students at Oregon State University, is on display Tuesday evening in Palo Alto.

The speedy vehicle won the 2013 Formula Sun Grand Prix, and its creative team is working on its next-generation car to compete in the 2015 World Solar Challenge, a race across Australia. Tuesday's event runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at "Project Green Home," a house on Stanford Avenue. designed to produce as much energy as it consumes.

Get more information or register at www.projectgreenhome.org.

COCKTAIL FOR A CAUSE: Darin Gile, the award-winning bartender at the Fairmont San Jose, has created a new summer drink for the hotel's Lobby Lounge. The #Cooler -- that's "Hashtag Cooler" for readers not up on their Twitterspeak -- mixes vodka with muddled raspberries and kiwi and is topped with lemonade. The flavor's great, and it goes down even easier knowing that the Fairmont is contributing a portion of the proceeds to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.