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More business coverage of the North Bay fires and recovery: nbbj.news/2017fires


This story originally appeared at PressDemocrat.com.

For businesses along a particularly prominent strip of northwest Santa Rosa, efforts to recover from October’s wildfires will be measured in months, not weeks.

Among those businesses, Kohl’s has announced plans to reopen its damaged department store on Hopper Avenue in early spring. Trader Joe’s hasn’t yet set a date, a company spokeswoman said this week, but is working to reopen its damaged supermarket on Cleveland Avenue as quickly as possible.

And Kmart has yet to announce whether it plans to return to the site of a 114,500-square-foot store that was destroyed Oct. 9, also on Cleveland.

In all, 29 businesses around Santa Rosa were damaged or destroyed by wildfires that killed 24 people and incinerated more than 5,000 homes in Sonoma County.

Many of the affected businesses in the city lie near Cleveland and Hopper avenues, where charred structures and debris remain strikingly visible to motorists traveling along Highway 101.

Among the destroyed properties is Mountain Mike’s Pizza, one of 10 eateries owned by the Chandi Hospitality Group.

The family-owned company hopes to reopen the Cleveland Avenue restaurant in 12 to 15 months, said President Sonu Chandi.

“It was a good-performing business for us and we are looking to rebuild as fast as possible,” he said.

Cleanup is nearly complete at the property, Chandi said.

The wreckage was visited earlier this month by California Treasurer John Chiang on his tour of the fire area.

For a healthy economy, Chandi said, recovery must include the other damaged businesses and the nearby Coffey Park residential neighborhood, where flames consumed more than 1,000 homes.

“I can rebuild my business there,” he said, “but it’s important that the community rebuild.”

Another destroyed restaurant was Arby’s on Hopper Avenue.

“We’re hoping to have it open within six months,” said franchise owner John Eng.

“People need jobs.”

In the meantime, he said, a number of the restaurant’s managers and staff members have transferred to the Arby’s on Redwood Drive in Rohnert Park.

At Piner Road and Cleveland Avenue, the fire damaged a building that upstairs held Wine Country Bride and on the ground floor housed Premier Bath & Kitchen.

“Between the fire and the smoke damage, Wine Country Bride took a very hard hit,” said owner Cirkl Janowski.

“We are working hard to get back on our feet, and to be able to serve our wedding community again.

“At this time we are unsure how long it will take for us to open our doors.”

She added that the business has served bridal parties for 20 years, and “it is hard for us to be in this position of uncertainty.”

Meanwhile PBK, the bathroom and kitchen fixture store, has moved its sales staff into the PACE Supply store on Dutton Avenue in south Santa Rosa.

Premier Bath & Kitchen is a branch of PACE Supply, said Matt Kuller, PBK’s showroom manager.

Kuller said the staff now is seeking a temporary showroom location and hopes to one day return to the Cleveland Avenue property.

He noted that thousands of county residents will need new bathrooms and kitchens as they rebuild their homes.

More business coverage of the North Bay fires and recovery: nbbj.news/2017fires


This story originally appeared at PressDemocrat.com.

“Our hope,” said Kuller, “is we can be part of people putting their lives back together.”

You can reach Staff Writer Robert Digitale at 707-521-5285 or robert.digitale@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @rdigit.