Reopening of Kailua deli deliberated
A July fire at the Gee...A Deli sandwich shop in Kailua has given owner Doug Izak the longest vacation of his life. Of course, it has been an unpaid vacation.
"It was an electrical fire," originating from an extension cord, Izak said.
The sandwich shop tucked behind McDonald's off Kuulei Road was a favorite haunt for journalists, including Star-Bulletin copy editor Joe Edwards and television sportscasters including Howard Dashefsky, Larry Beil and Neil Everett.
Fiery sports conversations would fume over sandwiches and maybe some not-quite-as-hot pepperoncini.
In the wee hours of July 27 the smoke, heat and fire in the restaurant were of the literal variety.
An "odor of smoke" call was made to the Honolulu Fire Department at 1:11 a.m. Firefighters, on the scene within three minutes, found Gee...A Deli filled with smoke "and the fire was in the back area, surrounding a refrigeration unit in the right rear of the store," said Capt. Kennison Tejada. The fire was out by 2:06 a.m.
The whole shop was black, Izak said. "It melted anything table high or above. The red cash register, the TV, CD player, all the artwork was destroyed (including) some pictures of my kids," he said. "The TV was 40 feet away from the fire and it melted."
Izak didn't have insurance, but "the landlord's insurance is redoing the walls, ceiling and floor," he said. "Once they're done, I could probably go back within a month."
Building owner Ken Sugita, an attorney, declined comment.
Izak managed the restaurant for two years before buying it 21 years ago and he has weighed whether he really wants to reopen or go to work for someone else.
"I think we're going to have to come back," he said. "I can't go anywhere now without people asking me about it."
Izak, his wife, Karen, and college-aged children Paul and Alicia worked in the store along with a few other part-timers. His youngest daughter, Nicole, is in elementary school.
"The two Saturdays in a row just before the fire, we had the Von Izak Family Sandwich Makers," he chuckled, playing off the Von Trapp Family Singers from the movie "The Sound of Music."
The upside of not having to run the business is having more relaxed time with his children and his wife -- who is working elsewhere now -- and cooking for them.
"It's actually kind of fun being a house husband for a change," he said. "I make a list and I get to do it ... I make a list and I don't make any money, but I get to accomplish a lot of things," Izak laughed.
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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4302, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com