In the early morning of Saturday, June 29, an electrical fire ignited in the attic above the kitchen of Main Street Pizza. “By the time we got here, there were 11 fire trucks,” recalled owner Jo Ann Garza. “Thank goodness for the firemen.” The fire ravaged the kitchen, damaged equipment and left the entire building interior soot-stained and smoky. Repairs and renovation have forced the longtime neighborhood favorite to close its doors for almost three months.
Jo Ann and her husband Eddie Garza have owned and operated Main Street Pizza since January 1993. The fire was the first disaster of this size and scope to hit the restaurant in over 20 years of business.
The disaster took place just before the Fourth of July, a normal workweek for the restaurant but a holiday for their insurance company. Seven long days passed before the Garzas were allowed to re-enter the building, and most food in the fully stocked establishment spoiled. “They had just made 30 trays of lasagna,” lamented Jo Ann. “We had two horrible smells in there!”
The Garzas could have left cleanup to an external company provided by their insurance, but elected to repair the restaurant themselves. “We are a mom-and-pop and we’ve never relied on anybody,” Jo Ann said. “This is our baby and we’ll take care of it.”
All 10 employees of Main Street Pizza, whose tenures at the restaurant range from five to 18 years, are undertaking the repairs right alongside the husband-wife team. “We didn’t want the fire to hurt the employees’ families,” Jo Ann said, so although jobs have temporarily changed drastically, everyone still takes home a paycheck.
While original estimates predicted a two-month repair time, the restaurant won’t likely reopen until the end of September. The building has been gutted and restored to its pre-fire appearance, with no major improvements, additions, or expansions. A few superficial updates, such as new carpet, a glass front door and interior stainless steel wall panels, give the mature building a fresh face.
“They’re long days,” Jo Ann said of the work. “Everybody goes home drained.” Most major pieces of equipment, including the ovens and the giant mixer, survived unscathed, if sooty. Smaller items that didn’t make it can be purchased from local suppliers, but finding a new walk-in refrigerator has caused a major delay. As soon as that arrives and the dust has settled, the Garzas will make an appointment with a city inspector and reopen shortly thereafter.
When the Main Street doors swing open once again, expect to see a new menu item or two. “We used to do wheat pizza in the old days, and Eddie’s thinking about bringing it back,” explained Jo Ann. “And we look forward to grocery shopping!”
Main Street Pizza
1906 N. Main