Biz Buzz: Fire damages Bon Temps restaurant

Fire damage at Bon Temps Creole Cafe in San Luis Obispo.
Fire damage at Bon Temps Creole Cafe in San Luis Obispo. The Tribune

A popular Cajun restaurant in San Luis Obispo has shut down temporarily after an early-morning fire Tuesday damaged its interior. But Phil Lang, the owner of Bon Temps Creole Café, hopes to reopen in as little as three weeks.

“We’ll be open for Mardi Gras,” he said, referencing the event that occurs next year on March 8.

A passerby called 911 at 3:50 a.m. Tuesday after seeing smoke coming from the roof of the restaurant at 1000 Olive St., according to a news release from the San Luis Obispo Fire Department.

About 20 firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze, which started in the cashier island of the restaurant. The flames were confined to that area, authorities said, and there was no structural damage to the building.

“It was a slow building fire,” Lang said, noting that it was likely an electrical fire.

Lang has been at the building for 15 years. Prior to his occupancy, he said, there were two other fires there.

“The fireman who put the fire out said he was here the last time,” he said.

Lang was talking to insurance companies and cleanup crews Tuesday morning.

Inside the restaurant, burned ceiling tiles lay on the floor near the open kitchen. Some booths were damaged, and walls were blackened. But the eatery avoided major damage.

The fire comes nine months after an early-morning blaze destroyed two other popular San Luis Obispo eateries — Cabo San Luis and Kona’s Deli. Neither of those restaurants has reopened.

“We were really lucky,” Lang said. “Whoever called it in, they were the hero. Because it would have gone undetected.”

Lang said business at the restaurant, known for its spicy, New Orleans-style food and zydeco music, typically slows down this time of year.

“It’s a convenient time, actually,” he said.

The restaurant is most active during Mardi Gras, when Cajun cuisine is especially in demand.

Lang did lose his collection of antique hot sauces, which had been displayed near the ceiling, where the fire took hold.

Several old Polaroid photos of customers also melted, and some pictures and frames were ruined. But the restaurant’s dancing pig statue, covered in Mardi Gras beads, somehow survived.

“It was right where all the action was,” Lang said. “When they were putting the fire out, I said, ‘Can I just move the pig?’ ”

— Patrick S. Pemberton

Morro Bay 4th, a nonprofit organization that raises money for Independence Day fireworks and festivities in the city, has chosen new officers: Dan Podesto, president; Chris Christensen, vice president; Susan Craig, secretary; Eileen Dennis, treasurer; and Jeff Eckles, past president.

The nonprofit was formed, with the assistance of the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce, when community members voiced dissatisfaction at the chamber’s implementation of a laser show instead of fireworks for the city in 2009.

The group raised more than $30,000 for fireworks and a family fun day last July 4 and has begun fundraising for the 2011 celebration.

Board members for the group are: Christine Johnson, Neil Farrell, Bill Peirce, Leah Cowley, Trina Dougherty, Joe Eckles, Peter Behmann, Phil Kispersky and Chanel Channing.

The group’s committee members include: Alyce Thorpe, Kory and Taryn Robertson, Sharon Smith, Len and Midge Gentieu, and Dave and Sherry Woods. To volunteer, e-mail Podesto at

— Julia Hickey