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Electrical fire damages Tampa's Matoi Sushi restaurant

TAMPA — During the first call from his alarm company Sunday morning, Sam Lim learned that the power at his restaurant had been disconnected.

The company called again. This time they told him the business he opened 21 years ago was on fire.

"I don't worry about the money, I just worry about my customers. That's it," said Lim, 51, as he sat on a nearby curb while fire investigators combed the inside of his restaurant. "Please, tell them I'm sorry for the inconvenience."

Tampa Fire Rescue crews took about 45 minutes to extinguish the blaze at Matoi Sushi, 602 N Dale Mabry Highway. No injuries were reported.

The 7:48 a.m. fire caused lane closures in both directions along N Dale Mabry Highway.

Officials reopened the roadway just before 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

Police initially responded to a report of a robbery but arrived to find the restaurant on fire.

The Tampa Fire Marshal's Office said the cause of the blaze was an electrical overload. The fire started in a wall between the front of the business and the kitchen. Fire officials estimated the damage at $150,000.

Matoi Sushi is south of Interstate 275 and north of Kennedy Boulevard. The restaurant is about 2 miles south of Raymond James Stadium, home of Sunday's Super Bowl XLIII.

Lim didn't have a dollar estimate on possible losses, but he said he had recently purchased three to four times as much inventory as he normally orders in anticipation of the Super Bowl crowds.

"I feel sorry about this," he said. "Please tell my customers just wait for a while. We will try to reopen soon."

Kevin Graham can be reached at or (813) 226-3433.

Electrical fire damages Tampa's Matoi Sushi restaurant 01/25/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 25, 2009 10:55pm]
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