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Soul & Sea owner says she'll bounce back from Penn Hills fire

Dillon Carr
| Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017, 12:27 p.m.
Soul & Sea Restaurant at Ritzland Plaza in Penn Hills was damaged by fire early Wednesday morning.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
Soul & Sea Restaurant at Ritzland Plaza in Penn Hills was damaged by fire early Wednesday morning.
The inside of Soul & Sea restaurant at Ritzland Plaza was severely damaged by fire early Wednesday morning, Nov. 29, 2017.
Dillon Carr | Tribune-Review
The inside of Soul & Sea restaurant at Ritzland Plaza was severely damaged by fire early Wednesday morning, Nov. 29, 2017.

The owner of Soul & Sea restaurant on Frankstown Road in Penn Hills expects to bounce back soon from a fire that severely damaged the business last week.

“Just give me some time and I'll get it all refurbished,” Brittany Houser said outside the restaurant she opened four months ago.

Houser, devastated but optimistic, said she has no idea how the Nov. 29 fire started at the eatery in the Ritzland Plaza strip mall. However, she said she was told by investigators that it is being ruled accidental.

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller is leading the investigation and that he requested assistance from the county police's accelerant detecting K-9 unit dog.

Miller said the fire started in a laundry bin containing cleaning rags saturated by cooking oil that spontaneously ignited.

B-Sharp Hair Studio owner Darnell Cohen reported the fire around 6:30 a.m. as he drove in to open his shop in the shopping center.

“I saw flames coming out the front door,” he said.

It took firefighters about a half-hour to get the fire under control, Penn Hills fire Lt. Tom Kutcher said. No one was in the restaurant when the fire started and there were no injuries reported.

Cohen's shop remained open as the plaza's owners, East Suburban Interior, were assessing the damage shortly after the fire. The salon, Dollar General, a flower shop and a pawn store in the mall were damaged by smoke from the fire.

East Suburban Interior President Mark Mikol said last week that his main concern was boarding up the cracked windows of the restaurant.

“We want to make sure the area's safe,” Mikol said.

Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2325, dcarr@tribweb.com or via Twitter @dillonswriting.

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