LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A popular Mexican restaurant that has called Little Rock home for more than a decade caught fire early Wednesday morning.
A driver saw the flames coming from Riviera Maya on Interstate 630 and Fair Park Boulevard and called 911.
As work begins to clean up the mess left behind by loyal customers like Juan Carlos Lopez, they hope the restaurant can reopen soon.
“I come here about four to five times a week,” said Juan Carlos Lopez.
Riviera Maya is a lunch staple for Lopez.
“We also have friends who come over very often,” Lopez said.
On Wednesday, the restaurant’s doors remained closed and the parking lot was empty after an early morning fire.
“My alarm called me early in the morning,” said owner Manuel Servin
The owner, Manuel Servin, received the call around 4 a.m. He said that while the exterior of the restaurant appears intact, the fire destroyed the kitchen prep area and the office.
“We are going to lose a lot of food and everything we just ordered. The supplies arrived yesterday and now I have to throw them away,” Servin said.
According to the Little Rock Fire Department, the HVAC system on the roof collapsed, causing most of the damage.
“The living room area looks good, but the kitchen, it looks completely devastated,” Lopez said.
Servin said he realizes the situation could have been much worse.
“You know, I was a little upset and nervous at the same time, but I’m glad nobody got hurt. That’s the main thing,” Servin said.
Servin said that while this is a devastating blow, especially after being forced to close at the start of the pandemic, his priority is to take care of those who work for him.
“Most of my employees are like family because they’ve been with me for a long time,” Servin said.
He said he was grateful for loyal customers like Lopez.
“I’m just going to support them. Hope everyone is doing well in the future and it will be open soon,” Lopez said.
Servin said he hopes the restaurant can reopen soon.
“Just give us a little patience and pray for us,” Servin said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Servin said he plans to move some of his employees to the second Riviera Maya location on Interstate 30 in Little Rock, so they can work while the Fair Park location is being repaired.