A small electrical fire closed Pho King Way, and the owner suspects a bad rice cooker is to blame.
Alex Le opened Mission Viejo's only Vietnamese restaurant about six months ago and stirred up some controversy over the name. Now he faces a new set of problems.
The owner left the restaurant around 10:45 p.m. Feb. 3, only to get a call from the fire department around midnight.
"I thought someone was playing a joke on me," he said.
It was no joke. The restaurant had caught fire, and firefighters were forced to break windows and puncture the building's roof to clear smoke out of the restaurant.
He says his insurance company now suspects faulty wiring from the restaurant's rice cooker may have caused the blaze.
Le says he has no idea how the fire started.
"We turn (the rice cooker) off every night," he said. "We have a procedure that we go through.”
The restaurant has been closed since the fire started, and Le fears his customers will start to go elsewhere. He says he's in a hurry to reopen.
"If we work day and night… we should be able to have it open by April," he said. "It’s not going to kill us here. It stopped us for a little bit but we’ll be back, and that’s a guarantee."
But before that happens, the matter has to be squared between his insurance company and that of his landlord. Also, the city has to approve the space to reopen, he said.