North Texas Daily

Boca 31 catches fire causing temporary closure for the Denton restaurant

Boca 31 catches fire causing temporary closure for the Denton restaurant

Boca 31 catches fire causing temporary closure for the Denton restaurant
February 24
12:00 2023

Popular Latin restaurant Boca 31 is closed indefinitely after burning down earlier this month in a fire that started in the kitchen.

The Denton Fire Department responded to a call on the night of Tuesday, Feb. 7 regarding a kitchen fire at Boca 31 on 207. S Bell Ave. The cause of the fire is currently unknown and is still under investigation, but the fire department assumes that it might have something to do with the refrigerator unit, according to David Boots, battalion chief and public information officer for the Denton Fire Department.

The cost of repairs is currently unknown, but there are estimated to be over half a million dollars in damage. No injuries were sustained.

“We’ll be back — We’re just going to take some time, and I think the community has been great, I just don’t know how long that’s going to take,”  Boca 31 chef Andres Meraz said. “I don’t want to, like, really get my hopes up on a specific date because you know how construction can be.”

The kitchen is inoperable from the fire, with two additional holes in the roof the fire department created and used to extinguish the fire. Nothing outside the building was damaged.

Leftover soot and ash remains from a fire at Boca 31 on Feb 19, 2023. Lauren Campbell

The staff at Boca 31 currently plans to find a temporary kitchen to cater pop-up events and fundraisers around Denton during the temporary closure. The staff has been operating out of fellow restaurant La Milpa for the events that have been held thus far, but it is not a permanent relocation.

Boca 31 has earned “Best of Denton” awards from various publications every year since it opened in 2016. Some local residents have been saddened at the loss of this beloved Denton staple, but citizens have also expressed their support for Meraz and his staff.

“He is such a nice, approachable, very friendly guy,” Denton resident and frequent Boca 31 patron John Singler

said. “I don’t like using the word ‘down-to-earth,’ I feel like there’s a different word I could use, but that’s a perfect definition.”

The local support for Boca 31 has helped the restaurant through tough times before. In 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Denton resident and former university employee Allison Peeler Mitchell asked Meraz to cater her wedding, even though he was “concerned they would not survive the months where everything was completely shut down.”

“Our wedding was awesome […] despite all of the things that happened [during the pandemic], and he was such a big part of that,” Peeler-Mitchell said. “He came, and we had to shift into where the staff served food, so he served food at our wedding, he cut our cake for us — He was amazing, he’s an amazing human.”

Meraz owns two additional Boca 31 locations in Keller and Fort Worth that opened in 2018 and 2022. These locations will continue operating during normal business hours.

Featured Image The main entrance to Boca 31 is covered by wooden boards on Feb. 19, 2023. Lauren Campbell

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