By Mike De Felice
Kitsap Daily News
PORT ORCHARD – The Puerto Vallarta restaurant will be closed until at least July while repairs are made following a fire last month that ripped through the restaurant’s kitchen.
Regulars of the popular eatery, however, may not have to wait long before they can again enjoy some of the establishment’s Mexican fare. A Puerto Vallarta food truck will serve up some of the restaurant’s favorite dishes in a few weeks, once the state Department of Health signs off on the paperwork, owner Sergio Andrade said.
“In an effort to keep Puerto Vallarta in the minds of our faithful patrons, we are working on a food truck venture that will operate out of our parking lot,” Andrade said.
Food truck service, which will be available at least until the restaurant reopens, will have tentative hours of 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, he said. “We are excited about this new venture.”
The restaurant was forced to close following a late-night fire on Jan. 22. The fire broke out in the kitchen after the restaurant had closed. No patrons or staff were present when the fire started. Security video showed the fire started between the kitchen’s griddle and fryer, Andrade reported.
“All of our kitchen equipment will need to be replaced,” he said. Over a dozen units, including the stove, fryer and refrigeration components, need to be replaced. Plumbing and electric systems in the 1,800-square-foot kitchen will also need to be completely rebuilt, he added.
While the fire was contained to the kitchen, the seating area where patrons dine suffered smoke and soot damage, the owner said.
“There was pretty extensive damage to all of our furniture in the dining room. Some upholstery will need to be replaced because the smoke gets into the foam of the seatbacks and benches. Some of our walls were blackened from the soot.”
A dollar value for the damage has yet to be determined pending equipment replacement estimates, he said.
Getting new equipment has been complicated by a lack of available products, and supply chain snarls, Andrade said.
The fire is not the only setback the restaurant has suffered in the past few months. There were also two break-ins into the building, which led Andrade to place chain link fencing around the building.
On Feb. 8, police responded to a burglary alarm and found a door of the closed restaurant damaged. It appeared one or more suspects purposely drove a dual rear-wheeled truck into the door, according to police. The incident caused damage to a wall, pushing it in over 18 inches, Andrade said.
A few days earlier someone broke a window to gain entry. Nothing was stolen in either incident as all the food, alcohol and cash had been removed from the establishment after the fire.
The fire at the 28-year-old restaurant has had quite an impact on the owner.
“My life has kind of been flipped upside down,” he admitted. “I am at the restaurant every day, basically. Trying to figure out a game plan to move forward.”
Support from people in the community has helped him and his co-owner wife, Patricia, to better deal with the setback.
“They have been very supportive and look forward to us coming back. People have told us they have been going here for years. It’s their favorite restaurant. It feels good to hear that and it motivates us to get excited to come on back.”