A well loved East Bay institution is closed after a damaging fire this morning. Oakland's 61-year-old Merritt Restaurant & Bakery was "gutted" by a fire that started in a storage room at the rear of the restaurant and spread to offices upstairs. It sounds as though the majority of the front portion of the restaurant is undamaged, and the husband of owner Patricia Griffis tells the Chronicle that "Merritt will reopen as soon as the city of Oakland gives us the green light to do what we need to do." This unfortunate event comes three years after the city loaned the restaurant over $350,000 in order to stay afloat. [Chron] Update: Okay, so, the damage actually looks pretty severe. See the photo above that we just received. And just a note: This is their second fire in seven years.