Beloved Sandy restaurant destroyed by fire

Posted at 6:59 PM, Dec 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-14 20:59:24-05

SANDY, Utah – A long-time fixture in Sandy is gone after an explosion and fire ripped through Johanna’s Kitchen around midnight on Monday.

The last time someone was inside the restaurant was Sunday at 3:30 p.m. when employees closed up for the day.

Ron Van Otten stopped by the beloved restaurant Monday morning and couldn’t believe what happened.

“It’s hard looking at it like this,” Van Otten said. “This isn’t what we want to see.”

Van Otten spent a lot of time here when his grandmother, Johanna, whom the restaurant is named after, owned it from 1971 to 2001.

“She put her heart and soul into it. Every little piece had to be just right,” he said.

Van Otten’s grandmother passed away several years ago, but the family still holds fond memories of the restaurant.

“My grandpa did all the baking. He’s the one that came up with all the recipes for the scones and all the pies, breads,” he said.

The popular stop is now shut down while fire crews investigate the blaze.

Surveillance video from nearby businesses show an explosion just after midnight Monday morning. When fire crews arrived on scene, smoke was coming from the roof and debris was flying out of the back of the building.

“The debris field we have off of this building extended from the northbound lanes of State Street to the fence here at Jordan High School,” said Sandy Fire Marshal Robert DeKorver.

The restaurant is a total loss. Investigators can’t determine a cause yet because it’s unsafe to go inside.

“The ceilings have dropped inside, roof displaced and most of the walls have buckled from inside out. So there’s a lot of structural damage, a lot of potential for collapse especially with the added snow weight,” DeKorver said.

Investigators are working on securing the unstable building so students from nearby Jordan High don’t try to get an up-close look.

Meantime, customers like Lacy Dunaway, are capturing what they hope won’t be the last images of the hometown favorite.

“It’s sad because it’s like the mom and pop store so to speak,” Dunaway said. “It’s the breakfast that makes it.”

“It would be really foolish not to rebuild Johanna's Kitchen right here in this very spot,” Van Otten said.