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A fire postponed reopening plans. Now an Indian restaurant is holding a fundraiser to support its staff

The staff at Mint, an Indian-Pakistani restaurant in Laguna Hills.
Proceeds from the ongoing fundraiser at sister concept, Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen will benefit the staff at Mint, an Indian-Pakistani restaurant in Laguna Hills.
(Andrew Bui)

In the early morning hours of May 5, a fire broke out at Mint, an Indian-Pakistani restaurant in Laguna Hills.

Firefighters responded to a report of smoke around 3 a.m. coming from the strip mall on Alicia Parkway where the restaurant is located. The fire was extinguished in less than 20 minutes, and no injures or damage to nearby establishments was reported.

Yet the damage caused by the small and short-lived fire is still being felt by the staff of Mint. The restaurant had to postpone its grand reopening, which was scheduled for late last month. The restaurant was undergoing a revamp of the space and menu that began in early 2022. Now it seems the closure will extend through the foreseeable future, with an anticipated reopening for late 2022 or early 2023.

“We are incredibly grateful that there were no injuries sustained by any of our staff or neighbors, and while this has been a truly devastating time, we look forward to rebuilding Mint and serving our Laguna Hills and greater Orange County community again,” Mint’s head chef Jamil Hosseini said in a statement.

In the meantime Mint’s sister concept, Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen, is stepping in to help.

Located across the county in downtown Fullerton, Khan Saab plans to donate 10% of monthly sales to financially assist the Mint team during the Laguna Hills’ restaurant’s rebuild, which is estimated to take six to eight months.

“We were devastated by the unfortunate fire at our sister restaurant, Mint, and we are dedicated to supporting the staff and team throughout the rebuild,” said Khan Saab’s executive chef Imran “Ali” Mookhi. “Mint was a Laguna Hills mainstay for many loyal guests, especially those who practice halal in Orange County.”

The ongoing fundraiser at Khan Saab begins June 14.

With its redesign, Mint was hoping to reintroduce itself to Orange County as an elevated space with a reinvigorated menu and modernized décor. Long deep-blue velour booths and a mix of blush velour chairs and studded leather seats were added to the dining room by Hana Mousavi of Savi Interiors. Plans for similar design choices will be incorporated into the post-fire rebuild.

Mint restaurant's revamped dining room, which was destroyed in a fire in early May.
(Andrew Bui)

In the interim, Mint hopes south county diners will make the trip to Fullerton where its Michelin-acknowledged sister concept also offers 100% halal dining and alcohol-free crafted mocktails.

“Until Mint reopens, we hope to offer a place for Mint’s community of fans to enjoy familiar, high-quality desi halal cuisine in its absence, ” said Mookhi.

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