Blaze destroys landmark restaurant in Dana Point Harbor

Times Staff Writer

An intense, fast-moving fire destroyed a landmark waterfront restaurant in Dana Point Harbor.

Proud Mary’s sustained $1.5 million in damage in the Saturday-night fire that burned for about an hour, authorities said.

About 70 firefighters and an Orange County sheriff’s fire boat were able to keep the blaze from jumping to an adjacent bar from which dozens of patrons were evacuated.

“It was a big one,” said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Mike Blawn. “When they first arrived, there was smoke and fire going through the roof. They did a great job of attacking it aggressively and kept it from spreading.”

An alarm sounded about 7:30 p.m., several hours after the restaurant, which serves breakfast and lunch, had closed for the day. No injuries were reported.


Blawn said the cause of the blaze was under investigation.

Steve Zdrakas, who owns Proud Mary’s with his son, bought the 30-year-old restaurant 2 1/2 years ago when founder and namesake Mary Merrill retired in her mid-70s. “She’d clean tables. She’d come in every morning at 4:30 and get the coffee going,” Zdrakas said. “She had enough and wanted to sell it to another family business.”

Zdrakas was helping board up the restaurant Sunday morning when customers -- some of whom had been eating at Proud Mary’s for decades -- arrived to find the eatery in shambles.

“People are out here crying. It’s incredible,” Zdrakas said. “We’re going to rebuild it.”