Tio Alberto's in downtown SLO reopens after fixing fire hazard

Mexican food eatery Tio Alberto's reopened in downtown San Luis Obispo on Saturday after an 18-day closure stemming from a fire hazard issue determined by city and county officials.

The business, at 1131 Broad St., complied with fixing its roof venting system after San Luis Obispo County inspectors, along with the city building and fire departments, found that it had been spraying grease onto the roof.

"It was piled up a couple inches thick," said John Callahan, San Luis Obispo Fire Chief.

The business was told to stop cooking on Oct. 21 until the equipment was fixed, officials said. The venting system over the kitchen hood appeared to have been modified, or "jury-rigged," to move air through, Callahan said.

Tio Alberto's owner Alberto Hernandez said Monday that the equipment was old and needed to be replaced.

Officials followed up with a joint inspection of the restaurant on Nov. 6 and approved the fixes, said Brad Prior, county environmental health specialist.

They were initially tipped off when a neighboring business saw the grease while on a nearby roof, Callahan said.

The eatery, known for its late-night crowds, lost about $50,000 while its doors were closed, Hernandez said. A sign was posted on the window during those weeks saying the business had temporarily closed.

"Lots of people have been coming by saying 'Oh no. Tio's is closed forever," Hernandez said. "But we're not. We're open now and serving burritos like always."

A history of Tio Alberto's and other local restaurant county health inspection reports can be found at www.slocounty.ca.gov under the "Restaurant/Grocery Store/Market Inspection Results Search" link. -Tonya Strickland