Fire destroys Johanna's Kitchen

Restaurant a fixture in Sandy City

SANDY CITY Utah (ABC4 Utah) -  An early morning explosion destroyed a popular restaurant in Sandy.

Firefighters responded to the explosion shortly after midnight to discover Johanna's Kitchen on fire.

"It was a fairly strong explosion," said Robert DeKorver, Sandy City's fire marshal.  "I know it was felt over here at 7-11. They ended up feeling it as well as seeing their ceiling tiles move."

The ball of fire was captured on the security cameras of Jordan High School.   Good 4 Utah obtained a copy of the surveillance video courtesy of Canyons School District.  For about 40 seconds during the camera's recording, the explosion rocked the area, sending debris towards the high school, close to a mile away.

"Through their security cameras, (it) showed quite a ball of fire that ended up taking place," said DeKorver.

"It was a fairly strong explosion," said DeKorver. "I know it was felt over here at 7-11. They ended up feeling it as well as seeing their ceiling tiles move."

Fire officials say Johanna's Kitchen suffered a million dollars in damage. He said the building was declared unsafe to enter.

"The ceiling itself has collapsed in a lot of areas," He said. "The walls you can see have been compromised where they ended up blowing from the inside out, pushing them out, displacing from the roof line six inches or more."

Despite having the video of the explosion, fire officials have yet to determine it's cause.

"From the outside, things look like it points towards some sort of mechanical failure," said DeKorver. "But until we get inside, we're really not going to be able to tell what caused this explosion to take place."

Ron Van Otten grew up at Johanna's Kitchen.  His grandmother, Johanna Nielsen was the original owner. It opened in 1971.

"Oh man, it's a bad deal that something like this could happen after all these years," said Van Otten who dropped by to see the restaurant in ruins. "You'd think it would be around for a long time."

Van Otten said his mother met her husband there and he worked inside as a teen. The family sold it in 2001.

"We still like to come here and have the scones that they are famous for," he said.

The restaurant's breakfast was a big attraction.

"It's like a mom and pop store restaurant style, homestyle cooking," said Lacey Dunaway who frequented Johanna's Kitchen. "This is sad."
Several high school students from nearby Jordan High School walked past the restaurant during their free period.  Many would eat here as well.

"A lot of students eat there all of the time," said Brittany Smith. "They'd have lunch specials for us. it really is sad."

The explosion may have destroyed Johanna's Kitchen for now.  But Van Otten said it can't erase the memories the place created.

"Regadless whether this place gets demolished or flattened, I still have a picture in my mind and always will," he said.

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