Mexican restaurant will stay Uptown, in new location
Francisco Arevalo has heard the question over and over: "When is Fiesta Grande going to reopen?"
"If it was up to me, it would be six weeks," Arevalo said last week. "The reality is, it's really hard to tell. We have all the permits. The only other permit we will need later on is the permit for the sign from the city."
Arevalo is manager and part owner of Fiesta Grande, a popular Marysville restaurant that was heavily damaged on June 29, 2012, when a derecho blew through central Ohio.
It caused the collapse of a load-bearing wall on the third floor of the building at 119 W. Fifth St. Police and firefighters evacuated approximately 50 people from the restaurant and surrounding businesses that day.
The damage proved to be so severe that the building had to be torn down a few days later. Plans are to reopen at 111 N. Main St., less than a block from Fiesta Grande's original location.
If the restaurant's Facebook page is any indication, Marysville residents can't wait.
Three dozen messages of support for Fiesta Grande were posted on June 17 alone.
"I feel blessed and proud to know that people are still patiently waiting," Arevalo said. "It definitely makes us feel honored knowing that everyone is just waiting, knowing that there are other options and competitors."
The restaurant first opened Aug. 17, 2000.
"Our neighbor, our partner now, they have restaurants in Columbus. When they got this opportunity in downtown Marysville, they were very interested but they didn't have anyone to run it and that's when the Arevalo family comes in," he said.
"We've been in business, thanks to the community of Marysville, for 12 years before the incident happened."
Arevalo runs the restaurant with his sister, Rosario. He was 18 and living in Tennessee when he began his career in restaurants. His family moved to Tennessee from Mexico in 1993.
When the storm hit Marysville a year ago, Arevalo said his first thought was to make sure nobody got hurt. He never imagined the damage would be as bad as it was -- and it certainly never crossed his mind that it would take this long to recover.
"You don't realize the procedure and the roller coaster you have to go through, including the insurance," he said.
The day the storm hit was a Friday, "one of our biggest delivery days," he recalled. The restaurant had just received a delivery of food worth nearly $5,000 "not including what else was already cooked and ready," Arevalo said.
Two days later, as contractors worked to remove just the third floor, it became evident that the whole building would need to be demolished.
"At the moment, you don't realize the magnitude of the whole process but after hearing the city and the insurance people saying for safety reasons, we would be better off just to demolish the whole thing -- you don't know what to think, really," he said.
Arevalo keeps the community updated on progress at the new site via the restaurant's Facebook page.
So far, a state inspector has approved the rough framing and electrical inspections. Work to install insulation and drywall began last week.
"It's definitely not as big as our previous location but I think it's big enough to keep us busy," Arevalo said of the new Fiesta Grande site.
He signed a lease last August but actually bought the building in January. Moving out of the Uptown area was an option that was explored, he said.
"But at the end, we realized we would be better off staying in the downtown area because that's what people know us from," Arevalo said. "Plus, the thought was that by staying in the same area, that would help revitalize the downtown area.
"I'm tired of looking at empty spaces," he said. "We thought it was very important to stay in the area to help the community in a way, but at the same time for our own benefit."