By Mark Garcia

Vol. 1, Issue 1, February 8-14, 2008

THE LATEST: Proud Mary’s was shut down after a fire destroyed the popular 30-year restaurant in the Dana Point Harbor on December 29. Investigators believe rags left in a defective clothes dryer caused the fire, which climbed up a ventilator into the restaurant’s attic. The fire then spread with the help of material stored in the attic, said

Captain Mike Blawn of the Orange County Fire Authority.

Turk’s, located next to Proud Mary’s to the north, also sustained minor damage from smoke, the breaking of windows and a hole in its roof that was cut to stop the spread of the fire throughout the building. Turk’s has since made temporary repairs and is back in business.

The damage to Proud Mary’s is estimated to be about $1 million. It took firefighters about an hour to completely put the fire out inside the 1,250-square-foot restaurant.

WHAT’S NEXT: Current owner Steve Zdrakas has already begun rebuilding and hopes to have the restaurant open by mid-June. “We will upgrade the patio, put in a nice fire pit and maybe something good will come out of the whole thing,” he said. In addition, Zdrakas said he plans on adding night dining, moving all tables near its front window so that every customer will have a harbor view and moving the kitchen against the back wall near the parking lot. When all is complete, he plans on having a “big pancake breakfast” for its reopening.

In the meantime, the owners of Coffee Importers, Wind & Sea Restaurant and Dana Point Yacht Club have hired some of Zdrakas’ employees while construction continues at the restaurant, which Zdrakas says he’s thankful for. “I’d also like to thank all my loyal customers for helping and supporting us with kind e-mails,” he said, “and the support from [Dana Point Harbor Director] Brad Gross and [Operations Manager] Paul Lawrence has been tremendous.”

Lastly, Zdrakas wants customers to give input on what should be included on the new dinner menu. If you have ideas, e-mail him at



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