Ty Issa laughed Tuesday afternoon at the memory.
"Well, I called Ted (Farha Construction secretary Ted Farha) first thing that Friday morning and said, 'I've had a little fire. Can you come down here and take a look?' Some little fire," Issa said.
Eleven days after that little fire in a back room dryer did $500,000 in damage to Larkspur, 904 E. Douglas, Issa was scurrying about Tuesday afternoon trying to put the finishing touches on his grand reopening tonight.
"I am behind," Issa said, shaking his head. We need to be making our food for tomorrow night, and I'm still surrounded by people.... I mean, for something that first looked like a little cleaning to do, look at this."
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Between 40 and 50 Farha builders and a battalion of subcontractors have spent at least 18 hours a day every day since Jan. 15 rebuilding the smoke-ravaged restaurant.
"Ty is a dear friend, and he called me up and wanted us to get him back open," Farha said. "It's been quite a challenge, but it's fun to find out exactly what your company is capable of, going to the wall nonstop for almost two weeks."
Towels in a commercial dryer overheated, causing smoke damage to the restaurant early Jan. 15 that Wichita fire officials originally estimated at $150,000.
That figure tripled, Issa said, due to the smoke, which destroyed the kitchen and its equipment and coated the restaurant as it circulated through two 10-ton cooling units on top of the building.
The result: $100,000 for new cooling units and equipment, $100,000 for all new kitchen equipment ruined by the smoke, all new plumbing and electrical wiring, and new cutlery.
The kitchen was stripped to the studs and rebuilt. Every surface in the restaurant was cleaned, refinished, painted or replaced.
Subcontractors including Decker Electric and Central Air Conditioning, both of Wichita, put in almost 200 man-hours on site over the past two weeks replacing the building's infrastructure.
"The damage isn't all that unusual," Farha said. "The smoke and the steam just cling to every surface in the building — clothing, fabrics, furniture. It just gets into everything."
Late Tuesday, construction cleanup was under way, sweeping up dust while contractors installed the new kitchen equipment.
It didn't look like a restaurant opening tonight. But Issa was determined.
"I have to. They're shampooing the carpet at midnight, and we're going to be set up for a banquet tomorrow night," he said firmly. "We're going until 5 this morning. We're going to prep it all, all night if we have to, to get everything ready and prepped.
"We have to do this."