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Renovation in store for Laguna restaurant after fire damages property

Renovation in store for Laguna restaurant after fire damages property
Central Laguna Beach, a restaurant at 361 Forest Ave., temporarily closed after a Dec. 29 fire damaged the property. Restaurant officials hope to reopen the week of Feb. 26 and are accepting public feedback on the menu and layout. (Courtesy of CENTRAL Laguna Beach)

Officials of a Laguna Beach restaurant are looking toward renovation after a fire two weeks ago damaged the property.

Central Laguna Beach at 361 Forest Ave. closed after the Dec. 29 blaze, which started at 2:45 p.m. when the restaurant was open, Taylor McKinney, one of the business's two managing partners, said in a phone interview Friday.

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Anna Montoya, a managing partner, reported the fire to the Laguna Beach Fire Department.

The smoke had a different smell to it than smoke coming from something cooking on the stove, McKinney said in relaying Montoya's description.

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The restaurant was open at the time of the fire and there were eight employees inside but no customers. McKinney said there was a lull between lunch and dinner. No one was injured.

The fire started behind a wall that separates the kitchen from a room containing electrical circuits, McKinney said.

Firefighters hammered through the wall to extinguish the blaze, McKinney said.

Investigators deemed the fire an accident, according to a news release.

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The fire at CENTRAL Laguna Beach started behind a wall that separates the kitchen and a room with the building's electrical circuits.
The fire at CENTRAL Laguna Beach started behind a wall that separates the kitchen and a room with the building's electrical circuits. (Courtesy of CENTRAL Laguna Beach)

Smoke damaged the restaurant's booths, contributing to what McKinney called a complete renovation.

McKinney said they are waiting on the city's OK before beginning physical improvements to the space.

"We fought long and hard to be a locals' place," McKinney said. "The tough part is [the fire] happened two days before New Year's Eve."

To help with the renovation, Central is seeking the public's feedback on changes or improvements related to the menu, layout or atmosphere they would like to see.

Central hopes to reopen the week of Feb. 26, the release said.

The restaurant opened two-and-a-half years ago in the space formerly occupied by Sundried Tomato American Bistros and Catering.

After 12 years, Sundried Tomato closed its Laguna location in October 2013. The company decided to not renew its lease.

The public can submit suggestions through email at info@centrallagunabeach.com or via the contact form on the website www.centrallagunabeach.com.

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Twitter: @AldertonBryce

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