SAN ANTONIO – A kitchen fire at a West Side restaurant Tuesday night spread throughout the Crown Point Center strip mall on Culebra Road.
“I got a shampoo area, here, everything is burned down,” said barber shop owner Richard Ore-Coker.
Ore-Coker walked through his two adjoining businesses Wednesday, speaking quietly through his safety mask as he described a fire that left his livelihood charred by flames, soaked with water and infused in smoke.
“I was going to bible study and they called me that there was a fire, so I knew there was nothing I could do. If I come back, I can’t put it out,” he said.
Ore-Coker and firefighters said the fire started in the back of his African-Caribbean cafe, Mumsy’s Kitchen. Just one door connects the restaurant to his barber shop, Oremi Hair Braiders and Barbers.
The cafe will take the longest to repair, but Ore-Coker will not let the disaster keep him from continuing his barber and braiding work.
"I will divert my traffic of clients to a different location as soon as possible," he said.
Ore-Coker said customers are already calling him to set up appointments, and he hopes others will do the same.
His businesses are a part of a strip mall that wraps around a large parking lot. The smoke traveled to all of them, but by Wednesday at least half were already able to open.
A state inspector on scene told KSAT the row of businesses most affected will need some work done to repair smoke damage.
The Labor Finders business, two businesses away from the Mumsy’s Kitchen, is one of the few still without electricity. The owner expects it to take at least five days for crews to restore power and remove smoke-damaged parts of the ceiling and wall.
However on Wednesday, the work for all the owners was very similar.
"Just taking out things we can salvage at this moment and things we cannot, we'll trash it," Ore-Coker said.
Making way for what he can only hope will be an unlikely new beginning.
San Antonio Fire Department arson investigators are continuing to look into how the fire started in the cafe kitchen.
Customers who want to keep in touch with Ore-Coker can call 210-680-4500.