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Restaurant owner smacked with a double whammy

By JACINDA HOWARD

The Mirror

One Federal Way business owner has recently been the target of arsonists and vandals.

Puerto Vallarta restaurant at 2323 S.W. 336th St. was vandalized April 14. Three doors were damaged and a substantial amount of liquor was stolen, restaurant owner Delia Vega said. All the garbage cans were dumped, leaving the restaurant scattered with litter. Vega replaced the stolen liquor and cleaned up the garbage, thinking that was the end of her problems with criminals.

Then, she awoke at 4 a.m. April 18 to a phone call informing her that her restaurant was on fire.

Three separate fires were set in the establishment: One in the men's restroom, one in the storage area and a third in the office, reports said. South King Fire and Rescue ruled the crime an arson.

Federal Way police determined the fires started between midnight and 4 a.m. April 18. Food and paper items were damaged from the fires, Vega said.

The bathroom received the most damage, she said. Stains on the walls from the fire are still slightly visible. The paper towel dispenser melted and fell from its mount, and the ceiling fan was also broken.

In the office, the door appears to have been kicked in. A faint impression of what may be a footprint can still be seen. The small room still smells like smoke.

However, the fires didn't cause the only damage. Broken liquor bottles littered the bar area and much of the liquor was stolen, once again, Vega said. An ATM machine and a POS cash register were also broken.

The restaurant's sprinkler system saved the establishment from burning further, police said. However, the sprinklers also soaked the floor in the bar, Vega said.

Vega had to replace the alcohol and hire a contractor to do repairs. As a result, Puerto Vallarta did not open until 7 p.m. April 18, she said. Vega estimates that about $50,000 has been spent to fix the damage caused by the arsonists.

The restaurant has experienced a few break-ins in the past, but none recently before these incidents, Vega said.

The Federal Way Police Department is investigating the arson, said South King Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Kendra Kay.

"If the opportunity is there for these people, they are just going to take it," she said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: jhoward@fedwaymirror.com or (253) 925-5565.

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