Cabo San Luis fire shutters nearby shops

Blaze that destroyed restaurant damages deli and blocks access to bookstore and salon

acornejo@thetribunenews.comMarch 4, 2010 

The fire that destroyed a popular San Luis Obispo restaurant has also left the future uncertain for several adjacent businesses.

Kona’s Deli, which operated next to Cabo San Luis for more than two decades, is nearly destroyed. Owner Paula Boggs did not know Thursday how long it will take to get the business running again or how long it will take the property owner to rebuild.

Cabo San Luis was destroyed when fire ripped through the eatery early Wednesday. Investigators on Thursday had not released the cause of the blaze.

Neighboring business owner Samantha Barkhuff faces a different challenge.

The Rock & Roll hair salon she has owned for seven years escaped the fire, but remains inaccessible because of the damage done to the rest of the retail center.

A security fence was installed Thursday around the perimeter of the center, called Foothill Square. Property manager Dan Rutledge said the goal is to get the two remaining businesses — SLO Textbooks and the Rock & Roll hair salon — open early next week.

The damaged portion of the complex will remain fenced off for safety reasons, he said.

“The intent is to rebuild, but it is premature to know what that time frame is,” Rutledge said.

Both Cabo San Luis and Kona’s Deli have insurance, as does Foothill Square. Rutledge and both business owners were starting to talk with their insurers on how the coverage will help them to rebuild and reopen.

Firefighters were called to the retail center off of Foothill Boulevard and Santa Rosa Street about 4 a.m. Wednesday to find Cabo San Luis fully ablaze. Early estimates put the damage at more than $1 million.

The all-wood Cabo San Luis was not equipped with fire sprinklers because it was built before sprinklers were mandated in the early 1990s.

Boggs, who has owned Kona’s Deli for eight years, said that she hopes to stay in the same location because the business has been there since 1989.

Twelve employees, mostly Cuesta College and Cal Poly students, are temporarily out of jobs.

Boggs surveyed the damage to Kona’s Deli for the first time Thursday morning.

“It is gutted. … There just isn’t much left,” Boggs said. “I was asked if there was anything that I wanted to get out of there, and there really wasn’t anything left to pull out.”

Boggs didn’t have an official damage estimate for the business yet, but said the greatest loss would be not seeing her employees every day.

“We have great employees and great customers, and hopefully, they will still be around when we reopen.”

Barkhuff said that she had not yet been told when her salon might be able to reopen.

“The physical damage to the space is minimal, but the damage I am facing is that I am out of business indefinitely, and that is really hard,” she said. “It will take some time for investigators to sort through all of this, and it is just mental torment.”

If she cannot reopen soon, Barkhuff said she would have to start looking for a place to work in the meantime.

“I just can’t wait longer than that,” she said. “Business has been a little slower than usual because of the economy anyways, and this is just a gut punch from nowhere.”

Two other hair stylists work in the shop.

Barkhuff said she worries about future business because she relies on foot traffic to the restaurants.

“I don’t know what I am going to do,” she said.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939.

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