H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Apr 7, 2011 2:18 AM by Danielle Lerner

More than a year later, some businesses still struggling after Cabo San Luis fire

It's been a tough year for business owners in the Foothill Square shopping center in San Luis Obispo.

Fire destroyed the Cabo San Luis restaurant in March of last year. The flames also destroyed Kona's Deli next door and damaged two other businesses. Investigators say the fire was intentionally set and arson investigators are still searching for the culprit. Kona's Deli is hoping to reopen in September, but some local businesses are still struggling long after the flames were put out.

It has been one year, one month and three days since the Cabo San Luis restaurant went up in flames, but Rock 'N Roll Hair Owner Samantha Barkhuff still feels the effects every day.

"We had 5 employees that stayed pretty busy and now we're down to just myself and my apprentice," Barkhuff said. "At first it was surreal, I probably stared at my wall at home for a good day or two, just couldn't believe it."

The salon was damaged in the fire but it reopened soon afterward. However the ongoing construction has nearly eliminated all foot traffic, the salon's main source of business.

"That long time period has really taken its toll, it's just, we're getting down to the wire here," Barkhuff said.

Meantime fire investigators are still searching for the person, or people responsible.

"We have some leads that are being followed up on, we've had some that we followed and didn't go anywhere," said Roger Maggio, the San Luis Obispo City Fire Marshall.

There is some good news, Kona's Deli was also damaged in the fire and it is hoping to reopen in September. Complete with a new interior and a beer and wine license.

"Everything's going to be new, it's a whole new start," said Paula Boggs, owner of Kona's Deli.

Barkhuff hopes that optimism will also see her through the tough times ahead.

"I'm trying to kind of wrap my mind around the idea that maybe everything does happen for a reason, and maybe I just don't know what that reason is now," said Barkhuff.

The Cabo San Luis building was covered with cedar wood-shaped singles, that helped the fire spread fast before fire crews arrived. It also did not have fire sprinklers.

The new building will have cement shingles that look like wood and a sprinkler system.

The property owner says he has plans to eventually reopen the Cabo San Luis space. Still no word yet on what might replace the restaurant.

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