Some of Sequim’s best fajitas and margaritas are coming back.
Owners of Las Palomas Mexican Restaurant, 1085 E. Washington St., plan to reopen today, Wednesday, Nov. 4.
“We’re glad to be coming back,” Fernando Lopez said. “People were calling and asking when we were going to start again.”
The eatery, which opened more than 18 years ago, closed on Sept. 16, after officials with the City of Sequim and Clallam County Fire District 3 determined its grill’s hood and fire suppression system needed to be replaced before employees could cook again.
Lopez said they were given the option to stay open and serve drinks from their full-service bar.
“We tried it for a couple days but most people come for dinner food,” Lopez said.
So Lopez and his brothers Javier and Miguel closed the restaurant until they could replace the hood and suppression system.
Initially, the restaurant closed for two days in April after Fire Code Technician Steve Jackson for Clallam County Fire District 3 discovered the hood suppression system was out-of-date.
The brothers found a replacement suppression system bottle for their older system but it was later used in a September fire.
Jackson said a grill fire was extinguished and it prompted officials with the City of Sequim to close down the grill until the brothers could replace the infrastructure. Their initial deadline to replace the equipment was Oct. 1.
Miguel Lopez said they initially thought it’d take one to two weeks to replace everything.
“We were trying to do everything as fast as we can and we were calling people everyday,” he said.
The hardest part of the experience, he said, was their concern for their 14 employees.
“They are really dependent on us being open,” he said.
Most of their employees are coming back for the reopening though, the brothers said.
Their lunch and dinner staples all return too with some new menu items coming in a few months, Miguel said.
Las Palomas’ regular hours begin Wednesday opening from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, and 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday. For more information about Las Palomas, call 681-3842.
Las Palomas is the second Sequim business to see a closure following revised fire suppression test standards in the 1990s.
Sunshine Cafe’s grill hood and fire suppression system were found to be out-of-compliance. They were given the option to stay open too but not use their grill.
Owners Allen and Dianne Drake opted to close on June 25 to make the changes with help from their landlord Brown M. Maloney. They reopened on Sept 25.
Jackson said these were the only two businesses with significant changes needed with their grill hoods but as more businesses’ kitchens age, they’ll need to upgrade their fire suppression systems, too.
On average the cost is about $2,500, he said.
As cooking equipment has improved, it’s been able to heat food faster, cook hotter and cool slower while a shift has occurred from cooking with animal fat to vegetable oil.
Jackson said older systems can need up to six times more retardant to extinguish a grease fire because it burns so hot.