Dining With Denise Neil

El Mexico Cafe owners close restaurant to repair damage from Friday fire

El Mexico Cafe at 2544 S. Seneca will remain closed for three to four weeks while its owners work on repairing damage from a Friday-morning fire.

Rhonda Helm, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Brent, said an employee came to work on Friday and found the restaurant full of smoke. Some grease-covered rags had been left on top of a running dryer in the back room of the restaurant and had smoldered all night. When the employee opened the door, they caught fire.

“Thankfully, she’s fine,” Rhonda Helm said.

The fire was extinguished, but the back room was extensively damaged and the dining room was filled with smoke, Rhonda Helm said. The decking, ceiling an dry wall in the back room must be replaced as well as the carpets and ceiling tiles in the dining room. Signs posted on the door inform customers about the incident.

The Villar family opened El Mexico Cafe in 1976. It closed briefly in 2008 before the Helms’ decided to partner with the founder’s son, William Villar, and reopen it. The Helms’ partnership with Villar later dissolved. Villar still has Mexico Cafe Delano at 555 W. Douglas and Villar’s Mexico Cafe at 1860 S. Hillside.

I’ll let you know when the Helms settled on a re-opening date.