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Taco Surf on PCH damaged in late-night fire — the third in a series of recent misfortunes

Todd Maris, owner of Taco Surf in Surfside, and friend Richard McCarty board up windows Friday.
Todd Maris, owner of Taco Surf in Surfside, and longtime friend Richard McCarty board up windows at the restaurant Friday after a fire caused severe damage to the property.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)
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Taco Surf, a restaurant on Pacific Coast Highway in Surfside, was severely damaged Friday during a three-alarm fire that broke out at around 1 a.m. — the third in a series of misfortunes to befall the eatery in the past year.

Jennifer Carey, public affairs manager for the city of Huntington Beach, said a call of a structure fire came in at around 1 a.m. Crews responding to the scene observed heavy smoke and fire coming from the restaurant.

“They initiated a fire attack and a search of the building,” Carey said Friday. “Due to the heavy fire conditions, additional crews from the Orange County Fire Authority and Fountain Valley were called to assist.”

Tyler Koons tosses a piece of charred wood onto a pile outside Taco Surf in Surfside on Friday, April 15, 2022.
Tyler Koons tosses a piece of charred wood onto a pile outside Taco Surf in Surfside on Friday, April 15.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Multiple units worked for about an hour to extinguish the blaze, remaining on scene several hours afterward to overhaul the area, she added. No injuries were reported.

While the cause of the fire is still under investigation, Daniel Yeh, a spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority, said the blaze caused widespread damage.

“The entire restaurant was involved,” he said Friday.

Broken windows and debris remain after a fire broke out over night at Taco Surf in Surfside on Friday, April 15, 2022.
(Raul Roa)

Lisa Rodden, owner of the Taco Surf location on Main Street in Seal Beach, said she and others were notified of the incident in the middle of the night by an alarm company for the family-owned restaurant. On Friday morning, she and Todd Maris, who owns the PCH location, were surveying the damage.

“We have no idea what happened,” said the Huntington Beach resident. “We don’t have any video, and there are red signs saying we can’t go in for 72 hours.”

Opened in 1998, the Surfside Taco Surf has amassed a following of fans and regulars who frequent the business. Rodden said many have been reaching out with words of encouragement as news spreads through the community.

Caution tape and debris leftover Friday from a fire at Taco Surf, in Surfside on Friday.
(Raul Roa)

“We have to report things to our insurance company, and we had employees coming to pick up their paychecks,” she added. “At this point, we just want to keep everyone safe.”

Friday’s early morning fire was not the first time in recent history Taco Surf’s owners have had to contend with widespread damage. The restaurant was the location of two separate collisions that occurred in March 2021 and February.

On March 10, 2021, a pickup truck hydroplaned toward Taco Surf and crashed into the building before fleeing the scene, according to video surveillance footage shared by Seal Beach police. The driver was never identified, and the case is still under investigation.

A photo taken Feb. 6, 2022 shows a vehicle that crashed into a Taco Surf restaurant on PCH in Surfside.
(Courtesy of Facebook user)

The collision caused significant damage to the structure, and restaurant owners spent months rebuilding Taco Surf’s frontage, according to a manager there. Then, on Feb. 6, a second collision occurred in the same general area.

The driver in that incident, Ted Lorenzo Ramirez, 22, of Norwalk, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence causing injury, police reported.

Rodden said while the past 13 months have been hectic, the goal is to keep moving forward.

“Our plan is to rebuild and reopen and come back better than before and be there for our employees,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing.”

Todd Maris, right, owner of Taco Surf in Surfside, and Richard McCarty board up windows after a fire broke out Friday.
Todd Maris, right, owner of Taco Surf in Surfside, and Richard McCarty board up windows after a fire broke out Friday. The building has been red-tagged, preventing anyone from going inside for at least 72 hours.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

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