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Penn Hills restaurant reopens after spontaneous fire nearly destroyed it

July 31, 2018

Soul & Sea pictured after a fire severely damaged the restaurant in November.

A Penn Hills restaurant nearly destroyed last year when oily rags spontaneously ignited has reopened.

Brittany Houser, owner of Soul & Sea restaurant in the Ritzland Plaza strip mall along Frankstown Road, said she has hired a laundry service to swap out their rags.

“So we won’t have that problem again,” Houser said, laughing.

Houser, 30, of Penn Hills was devastated when Soul & Sea was severely damaged in a November fire. The fire started when hot cleaning towels, resting for hours in a laundry bin, spontaneously ignited, said Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller in December.

A surveillance video in the restaurant captured how the strange fire started.

The restaurant officially reopened its doors July 24.

“I really want to thank the community for being very patient,” Houser said. “And since we opened again, everybody’s been really supportive. We really want to make a difference and serve great food.”

The fire happened only four months after the restaurant opened. Nearly eight months later, Houser said the restaurant is better than before, and she has a bright outlook on its future.

“They totally made the layout more efficient,” she said, adding that the restaurant is now better equipped to serve more customers and she would like to accommodate a dine-in area by December.

She said there are a few more options on the menu, too.

“We have salads and Alfredo dishes. We have lobster and shrimp on one and chicken and bacon. And we have a Pittsburgh salad,” Houser said. The Pittsburgh salad comes fashioned with fries and a choice of meat.

Down the road, Houser said she’s eyeing opening up locations in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty and in Wexford.

“And then hopefully, national. You never know,” she said.

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