Pismo’s restaurant temporarily closed after 2 small kitchen fires

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) — Pismo’s Coastal Grill in northwest Fresno is temporarily closed after two kitchen fires broke out on Sunday.

Earlier in the afternoon, crews were called out to the restaurant off Nees and Blackstone Avenues for a small kitchen fire they quickly put out.

Firefighters were called again around 11:30 pm after employees saw smoke smoldering between the kitchen walls while they were closing up.

Fire crews returned to put out the smoke. The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

“We’re trying to figure out how it got between the walls. If you see the structure of the walls and how the kitchen is designed, it’s confusing a bit to see how it could’ve actually made its way back there,” said Fire Battalion Chief Brad Dandridge.

No one was hurt.

The restaurant owner will now meet with the county health department to determine when the business can reopen.

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Greene County jail closes kitchen temporarily amid COVID-19 positives, lack of workers

The Greene County jail has closed its kitchen temporarily amid positive coronavirus tests among inmate workers. 

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On Thursday evening, three inmates who worked preparing and delivering food for the roughly 850 people incarcerated at the jail told the News-Leader they had tested positive for the virus after feeling sick for multiple days.

In response to those positive tests as well as a lack of people “eligible” to be workers, the jail temporarily shut down the kitchen. Inmates were being fed with prepared food from another contractor, Greene County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Deputy Jason Winston said. 

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“Inmate trustees are a huge component to food preparation in our jail,” he said. “We currently do not have enough eligible inmates for trustee assignments, so we have temporarily closed our jail kitchen.” 

98 infected among those incarcerated

The coronavirus is not believed to be transmitted via surfaces or food. As a respiratory virus, it primarily spreads through respiratory droplets released from people’s nose or mouth when they breathe, cough, talk or sneeze.

Still, the new infections among the inmate workers and others brought the total number of positive coronavirus infections among incarcerated people to 98 as of Friday afternoon, according to a news release.

Of those, one inmate was in the hospital, 31 people were showing symptoms and 69 had recovered. 

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Those numbers do not count people who have been released. 

But a report of testing numbers obtained through a public information request showed that as of Aug. 31, 110 inmates had tested positive, and 82 had recovered. The jail had submitted 233 tests as of that date. 

As of Friday, the jail news release stated 51 jail staff had tested positive, and 37 had recovered. As of Aug. 31, 190 staff had been tested. 

Virus spreading through ‘trailer jail,’ other facilities

All of those numbers come about a month after the first coronavirus case was reported in Greene County’s “trailer jail,” which sits adjacent to the main building and houses up to 108 people in open, bunk-style housing.

Most of the people in the trailer eventually tested positive.

Following those reports, inmates and their family members told the News-Leader they hadn’t been provided masks until after the first case was reported and noted it was nearly impossible inside the jail to practice physical distancing or take other precautions recommended to keep the virus at bay. 

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The virus eventually spread to other areas inside the main jail building, though the extent to which it has spread is still unknown. 

Sheriff Jim Arnott, for his part, said in an interview last week he was doing the best he can, noting it is very difficult to stop the virus

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Somerville favorite Highland Kitchen temporarily turns into Highland Chicken

“We thought it would be fun to change it up and simplify things, and it could be a model for when the weather turns cold,” he says. And it’s not a huge stretch — the longtime neighborhood restaurant has always served fried chicken. (Romano also runs Highland Fried in Inman Square, where fried chicken is a starring attraction.)

Mark Romano, owner of Highland Chicken, in the newly constructed outdoor seating.
Mark Romano, owner of Highland Chicken, in the newly constructed outdoor seating. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

He’ll peddle poultry for a while longer, and then he might try something new, like pizza or tacos. As for when the restaurant will return to its old model, he’s not sure.

“We’ll come back whenever we can fully come back,” he says. Until then, walk up and order or snag an outdoor table on the small sidewalk patio.

What to eat: Fried chicken in sandwich, tender, or wing form. Definitely get the Korean-style fried chicken sandwich with pickled veggies; a healthy slather of sweetish kewpie mayo; and gochujang, the slightly salty, slightly tangy Korean chili paste. This sandwich is made with all-white breast meat, FYI; some might prefer the fattier, darker thigh meat. It’s lightly fried and not too heavy — a hungry human could possibly eat two. There’s also the classic fried chicken sandwich with shredded lettuce, pickles, and spicy buffalo sauce on the side (it’s really spicy, so watch out). Fries are thin, crispy, and salty. Pro tip: Order a side of pineapple sweet-and-sour sauce for dunking. Not the neon pink stuff you might find at the bottom of a greasy takeout container, this is a golden, syrupy concoction with real chunks of pineapple — imagine your Nana’s fruit cup mixed with something from McDonald’s. There are also pickle-brined tenders and wings, with your choice of sauce (barbecue, bleu cheese, honey mustard, ranch, sriracha mayo, and that delicious pineapple).

Grilled chicken club.
Grilled chicken club.Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe

Healthier eaters can get grilled chicken sandwiches or tenders with a honey-lemon marinade; a black bean veggie burger with guacamole; and an array of salads. Try the shaved kale and Brussels sprouts with hazelnuts and pecorino in lemon vinaigrette — it’s tart and acidic enough to offset all that fried goodness. Most everything on the menu is under $10.

What to drink: Highland Kitchen and Highland Fried are known for their tiki drinks. Here, get cocktails to go (served in plastic takeout cups); my dining companion and I split a Mai Tai Dragon ($12) with orange curacao and a healthy splash of Orgeat syrup that easily — and tipsily — served two. Or just grab a $2, 12-ounce can of Budweiser or a $6 milkshake.

The takeaway: A tasty pivot, though it’s sad to see Highland Kitchen, with its only-in-Somerville bar scene and jukebox, temporarily dimmed. But in a chaotic world, there are worse things than eating takeout fried chicken.

Highland Chicken, 150 Highland Ave., Somerville, 617-625-1131, www.highlandkitchen.com

Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.

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