Kitchen fire damages
Tijuana's landmark Restaurant Caesar
May 31, 2006
TIJUANA – One of the city's oldest landmarks
was damaged yesterday when flames broke out in the
restaurant that gave worldwide fame to the Caesar
The incident sent smoke above the Avenida Revolución
tourist district, but no injuries were reported. The
damage appeared to be contained to Bar Restaurant
Caesar, near Fifth Avenue and next door to Hotel Caesar
Flames spread after a pan with hot oil caught fire
in the kitchen, said Jorge Chávez Vargas, head
waiter at the 76-year-old restaurant.
Caesar Cardini, who is said to have first sold the
salad in the 1920s at his cafe down the street, opened
the existing hotel and restaurant in 1930.
Though several versions of the Caesar salad creation
story exist, it generally is believed the salad was
made by Livio Santini, an Italian immigrant who was
a cook in the original Caesar Cardini restaurant,
and that Santini's boss was the first to market it,
One story has it that the restaurant was running
low on supplies and Cardini needed something whipped
up with what he had on hand. He made the salad appear
to be a specialty of the house by having it prepared
at the table.
Four customers were at the restaurant yesterday when
the fire broke out, Chávez said, two in the
bar area and two in the patio outside by the sidewalk.
Firefighters received the call at 2:02 p.m., said
Capt. Roberto Díaz of the Tijuana Fire Department,
and left the restaurant two hours later. He said investigators
were looking into the fire's cause.
The kitchen is in the back of the restaurant, which
is operated separately from the hotel. While the flames
were contained to the restaurant, the smoke passed
through vents into the hotel and into the upstairs
rooms, said Zita Ochoa, a receptionist at the hotel.
Guests and employees were evacuated. Late yesterday
afternoon, employees were mopping out ashes from the
restaurant and hotel, and the smell of smoke hung
in the air.
Chávez, the head waiter, said he was hopeful
that the front bar section could be reopened today,
if fire officials give permission.