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Flaming cheese sets off sprinklers at Baltimore's Cava Mezze restaurant; video goes viral

Diners at Cava Mezze learned there is such a thing as too much cheese when four flaming cheese dishes set off the sprinkler system at the Harbor East restaurant last week.

About a dozen international colleagues from Oath, a digital media company owned by Verizon, were having dinner at Cava Mezze Tuesday night, when they were enjoying the restaurant’s saganaki (flaming cheese). They were among the last tables in the restaurant when they placed an order for four of the cheese dishes.

“We originally ordered four. It was an incredible show, and they tasted amazing,” Matt Gillis, senior vice president of publisher platforms for Oath, said in an email. “So, we doubled down and ordered another four!”

A video by James Hughes, another guest in the group and director of publisher sales for Oath, shows servers igniting the four skillets at once. Seconds later, a sprinkler directly overhead unleashes a torrent of water, dousing the flames and the servers.

“When the sprinklers initially went off, we couldn't stop laughing. It was just so shocking, and we were having such a great time all night that we couldn't help but laugh,” Hughes said in an email. “The staff treated us amazing all night, very attentive, and made for a memorable night, even without the sprinkler fire.”

Saganaki is the most popular dish at Cava Mezze, founder Ted Xenohristos said. The restaurant, which also has several locations in the Washington, D.C., area, specializes in Greek-inspired small plates.

In the 12 years since Cava opened its original location, Xenohristos said he’s never seen anything like Tuesday’s incident. No one was hurt.

“We’ve always preached safety first with that dish,” he said.

Despite damage to a printer and phone at Cava Mezze, the restaurant replaced the items and was open for business Wednesday.

The saganaki has only become more popular in the last week, Xenohristos said.

“We’ve gotten people coming in and asking for it, they’re bringing it up, they’re talking about it,” Xenohristos said.

The video has since gone viral with more than 45,000 views on YouTube.

“We recently launched a program in my team to try to make the world feel a little bit smaller, and in doing so, we brought people from all over the world to Baltimore to get trained, and build relationships with their other global co-workers,” Gillis said in an email. “We did a good job making the world feel a little smaller.”

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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