Cabo San Luis may reopen (or not)

Name: Paula Boggs

Job: Owner, Kona’s Deli

Name: Dan Harper

Job: Owner, Cabo San Luis

What they said then:

Last March, a fire ravaged Foothill Square in San Luis Obispo, closing Cabo San Luis and Kona’s Deli.

The former was a casual Mexican-inspired eatery that father-and-son team Joe and Dan Harper opened in 2000. It employed 17 people, including five full-timers.

“Our intention is to start serving the community fish tacos again soon,” said Dan Harper, adding it would take at least a year to rebuild.

Kona’s, a Hawaiian surfer-themed deli, had been there since 1989. Paula Boggs bought it in 2002.

Kona’s had 14 part-time employees when it closed.

Fire investigators believed the blaze was “human-caused” but eliminated the property owner and other stakeholders as suspects.

What they say now:

Boggs is determined to reopen the deli in the same location as soon as possible, but Dan Harper hasn’t decided whether Cabo San Luis will return.

Reconstruction is underway and estimated at roughly $1.5 million, said property manager Dan Rutledge. The damaged portions of the building could be ready for the public by mid-August.

Harper, whose father has retired, is discussing a potential lease on his former 2,900-square-foot Cabo San Luis space.

“I’d like to get something going sooner than that,” he said, adding that he may pursue a different type of venture. He declined to specify what that could be.

“I’m evaluating all the options,” Harper said. “A restaurant is one option.”

Meanwhile, Boggs has been working with architects on a “modernized” version of the shop’s Hawaiian style in the same 1,400-square-foot spot.

Kona’s menu will be similar, though Boggs hopes to get a license to add beer and wine.

“We had a fantastic 2009. Going into 2010 was great until the fire happened,” said Boggs, who owns Kona’s with her husband, Eric. “I’m excited about recapturing our existing customers and attracting new customers.”

The other businesses in the center, Rock & Roll Hair Salon and SLO Textbooks, were not seriously affected by the fire and reopened almost immediately.

There is another 3,400 square feet of space that will be available when reconstruction is finished, Rutledge said. He is negotiating with an undisclosed potential occupant for part of it.

“The real issue is trying to get the place ready to be reopened for the Cal Poly school year,” he said. “Depending on weather, it should move along pretty quickly.”

- Raven J. Railey