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Fire destroys La Morenita restaurant in Cleveland just weeks before opening

Posted at 11:10 PM, May 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-11 08:58:19-04

CLEVELAND — It wasn't long ago that Bernarda Bautista felt like she was closer to her dreams, but now, she is clinging to hope.

“The reason I got into cooking here in the neighborhood and opening my own restaurant was because of the requests I would receive and all of the community members who would also need food and as a means to support my daughter,” said Bautista.

For the past four years, her Caribbean restaurant La Morenita was originally open near the 3100 block of West 25th Street but last year she hit an unexpected roadblock.

“The landlord at the other location where I was at for four years didn’t want to rent to me anymore for no reason, he told me I could go to the corner and sell food or in the parking lot,” said Bautista.

The Dominican-born chef found a new building just a block over at West 25th Street and Clark Avenue, she planned to reopen later this month, but an electrical fire gutted her business last week.

Now it's boarded up, glass is shattered outside, and the building is badly damaged.

“I already had the contractors finish up the flooring and everything was ready. I had photos of what it was going to look like, and everything was ready,” said Bautista. “I had photos of what it was going to look like when I was going to open it and it is just devastating. I didn’t have insurance for the building or for the business yet because I was going to get it three days before opening, however because of the fire now I can't.”

Bautista says her food become so popular that several members of the Cleveland Guardians have asked her to cater.

She said she’s still holding on to her dreams, but she needs the public's help to make it a reality again.

“I don’t know how to start over, but if anyone has a chance to reach out to us and help us find a new location or funding for rebuilding that would be appreciated.”

Click hereto donate to La Morentia's GoFundMe page, click hereto contact the restaurant.

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