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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | WEST COUNTY / VENTURA

Fire-Gutted Building Safe for Restoration

November 19, 1998|MARINA MALIKOFF

A downtown building gutted last week in a fire has been found safe to restore rather than demolish, according to the president of the downtown community council.

Meanwhile, none of the four businesses damaged in the Nov. 11 blaze--Joannafina's Mexican Cafe, Ventura County Business Machines, Book Mall of Ventura and Michael Kelley Salon & Day Spa--has reopened.

The fire began in Joannafina's at 420 E. Main St. and caused an estimated $1.4 million in damage.

About 60 merchants and residents attended a meeting of the Downtown Ventura Community Council on Tuesday.

"We wanted to make sure we can come together as a community," council President Doug Halter said.

"When things like this happen, you hear a variety of stories and gossip that could be hurtful."

Fire officials explained tactics used to stop the blaze and gave an update on the status of the structure, Halter said.

Meanwhile, most of the four businesses are either looking for new locations or setting up new shops, if only temporarily.

Salon owners Kelley Gaston, 29, and Michael DeLeon, 28, have been working with crews to overhaul space at 1784 E. Main St. that was donated to them by building owners Phil Passno and Ventura Deputy Mayor Ray DiGuilio in exchange for improvements.

They hope to have a temporary, somewhat downscaled version of their salon open by Nov. 28.

An answering machine at the Book Mall of Ventura informs callers that the shop is closed and that owners are looking for new space.

Calls to Ventura County Business Machines are being routed to the home of owners Jay and Valerie Johnson until they either relocate or reopen doors to the 70-year-old business.

Owners of Joannafina's could not be reached for comment.

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