HONOLULU (KHON2) — Maui fire officials said the call came in just before 2 a.m., and crews battled the blaze for about two hours.
Maui police also shut down roads outside 70 Lono Ave in Kahului early Friday morning while crews battled the fire.
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Long-time Maui residents remember the building as Dairy Queen, which was built back in 1958, and then it turned to Treats and Sweets which closed its doors back in 2013.
On April 29, the new tenant opened Rey’s Place, cooking up requests for whatever the customers wanted.
The restaurant owner lives a few blocks away, but said he didn’t hear anything when the fire broke out.
“My sibling drove from Kihei, and was knocking at my door,” said Renato Acob, owner of Rey’s Place. “I think it was around 4 a.m., and he just said, ‘Your restaurant!’ I said, ‘Am I late? I just got up.'”
Confused and unaware of what was going on, Acob’s sibling said, “No, it’s on fire.”
Acob said he spent months remodeling the building to open his restaurant and said he made everything from smashed tacos to fried akule, to kalbi and more.
“I’ve been — we’ve been working 16-hour days to get this rolling the past three months,” Acob said. “It’s been like seven days a week and also trying to balance being a single dad.”
He’s also a carpenter, and his son would help out cooking when he had free time.
Acob even fed the homeless nearby and in return, he asked them not to hang around the building after hours.
“I said ‘When I’m open and you’re hungry, I’ll feed you; if you need water, soda, or whatever it is, we’ll give it to you at no charge,'” said Acob. “All I ask is you guys don’t come here or mess around in the area.”
Acob said his truck was in the back of the building and was also destroyed in the fire.
“I had new equipment that couldn’t fit in the normal door, so I had it outside, and I used it to block the new equipment, so nobody could steal them,” he said.
Acob said he’s looking at a temporary solution until he can rebuild.
“I’m trying to see if I can get someone that’s not using a food truck right now and rent one from them, and I can get that rolling, I love cooking so if I got one tomorrow, I’d open up the next day,” Acob said.
He said he’s thankful no one was hurt and is remaining positive despite the circumstances.
Materialistic things for me, I know that you can always buy things or build things, but you can never replace a life if it was lost.”Renato Acob, Owner of Rey’s Place.
“I believe that things happen for a reason and it’s always a stepping stone to greater things and bigger things,” he added.
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Officials said the fire caused roughly $400,000 in damage, the cause of the fire is still under investigation.