Salar owner after fire: ‘My heart is broken for my people’

New Year’s Eve weekend was supposed to be a prosperous one for chef Margot Blondet and her staff at Salar Restaurant and Lounge, 400 E. Fifth St. in Dayton’s Oregon District.

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Instead of serving a packed house of guests a specially designed New Year’s Eve menu, the chef-owner and her staff spent time cleaning up what fire officials describe as an early morning kitchen fire.

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The restaurant had to cancel 350 reservations made for New Year’s Eve weekend.

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“We were so ready,” Blondet said. “I had New Year’s Eve decorations in my car.”

She hoped to donate food she planned to serve that weekend to the needy.

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Dayton fire crews were dispatched to Salar at 6:20 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 29, 2017 after hearing reports of smoke. Contacted by phone at about 3 p.m. that day, Blondet told us fire crews investigating the blaze still had not allowed her into the building.

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Firefighters said Salar will be closed for the immediate future, as the fire caused significant smoke damage to the Oregon District restaurant and other businesses in the building.

Investigators said the fire started in the kitchen and spread to the ceiling and a neighboring building.

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Adil Baguirov, the building owner, said: “A lot of damage at the most unfortunate time. Just making sure that we can get back on our feet as soon as possible."

Hours after firefighters responded, Salar emailed an update on the situation to its customers. The message read:

To all of our valued guests: Due to a fire at our restaurant this morning, we are closed indefinitely effective immediately and all reservations are canceled. We thank you for your business and support at this time. We look forward to re-opening soon and will keep you up to date on any new information that we receive.

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About 35 people work in the restaurant that Blondet, a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in Lima, Peru, open in 2013. The location is the former site of Sidebar, where Blondet served as executive chef.

“We still don’t know how in the world this happened,” she told this news organization. “My heart is broken for my people (staff members). My heart is broken for them. I don’t even know what to tell them.”

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She considers Salar a labor of love.

“It’s my baby and it’s my monster,” Blondet said of Salar with a proud laugh. “I call it my baby and I call it my monster because is sucks all the energy.”

She anticipates being closed for the forseeable future for repairs.

“Honestly, I am just concerned about my employees,” she said.

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