Dining With Denise Neil

Two months after fire destroyed this Wichita restaurant, it's ready to reopen

Rosa and Roberto Lopez plan to reopen their Gordita's Durango on Monday.
Rosa and Roberto Lopez plan to reopen their Gordita's Durango on Monday.

The Wichita restaurant that was destroyed by an apparent arson fire in early March should be ready to reopen on Monday morning.

Gorditas Durango, the tiny but popular restaurant that Roberto and Rosa Lopez have operated for seven years at 527 W. 13th St., burned in an early morning fire on March 1, and investigators quickly determined it had been intentionally set. After the fire, the couple reported finding gang graffiti and an overwhelming gasoline smell inside the restaurant.

Crews of volunteers, many people who attend the church where Roberto serves as pastor, were in the restaurant the next day, scrubbing, hammering and trying to help with the recovery.

Moses Lopez, the couple's son, said the volunteer help was crucial to the restaurant being able to recover so quickly.

"That cut the time it took in half, which is a good thing," he said.

The restaurant has a new, brighter coat of orange paint on the outside and a new cash register counter inside. The family also was able to update its hood and all its pipes and completely redo the restrooms and get new tables and chairs.

They also plan to upgrade their security system, Moses said.

There's been no progress on finding who started the fire, he said.

"We gave up on that a long time ago," Moses said.

Gorditas Durango specializes in gorditas, which are thick tortillas stuffed with meats. The restaurant has a devoted following and was always packed over the lunch hour.

The restaurant will resume its normal hours starting on Monday: 5:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays

Ranya Taha, the owner of Petra, talks about a fire that destroyed her family’s restaurant the night before. Some graffiti with the words “Go Back” were written on the back of the restaurant. Taha is from Syria and has lived in Wichita for 16 years

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