It’s been a year, and not an easy one, for the Svedise family of Santa Rosa Seafood, who lost the family patriarch last year and Saturday had their store and restaurant closed temporarily by an early morning, two-alarm fire.

The blaze broke out shortly before 4 a.m., causing damage estimated at $400,000 and forcing employees to turn away a steady stream of customers eager to purchase fresh fish Saturday afternoon.

Nick Svedise, one of three sons who took control of the business when their father, Mike Svedise, 59, died unexpectedly last June, said he hoped to get retail operations running by Sunday. The neighboring Raw Bar & Grill may take longer.

A smaller, restaurant kitchen fire in May prompted $15,000 in cleanup and equipment replacement. Nick Svedise said he hoped this weekend’s fire marked the end of a string of misfortune to befall the family and their business.

“Bad things come in threes, and this is the third one, so maybe I can move on,” he said.

But the extensive fire damage and recovery likely will postpone plans to expand the business, including some remodeling under consideration at the Santa Rosa store, he said.

Svedise and other store personnel said the company’s fish products were available at local farmers’ markets.

It remains unknown what ignited the flames in the complex of adjoining structures at Santa Rosa Avenue and Petaluma Hill Road. It appeared to have started in a large food storage area that was a mass of charred and sodden wreckage afterward, though a row of commercial refrigerators, stacks of burned tortillas, lemons and onions were recognizable in the mess.

A sizable hole had been cut in one corner of the roof where ceiling timbers were burned black and firefighters had broken through to aid their attack, the Santa Rosa Fire Department said.

A valuable inventory of fish stored in coolers and worth tens of thousands of dollars escaped fire damage, however, and was recovered under the supervision of a Sonoma County health inspector, Svedise and Santa Rosa Fire Battalion Chief Ken Sebastiani said. The inspector also instructed store personnel how to clean and sanitize the kitchen and processing portion of the operation in hopes they could reopen the business quickly, Sebastiani said.

A total of 32 fire personnel responded to the blaze after several motorists on Highway 101 observed smoke emanating from the building, fire and emergency personnel said.

Firefighters contained the flames in about 30 minutes in the storage and office area, Sebastiani said.

The restaurant portion of the business, which suffered a fire a decade ago while owned by someone else, had smoke damage but otherwise was unscathed, firefighters said.

General Manager Steve Cross was among those scrubbing walls and surfaces amid the odor of smoke Saturday.

“We always bounce back,” Cross said, “and we’re not going anywhere.”

You can reach Staff Writer Mary Callahan at 707-521-5249 or

Where homes were lost in Valley fire

Middletown (includes Anderson Springs): 562

Cobb: 445

Hidden Valley Lake: 144

Loch Lomond: 71

Whispering Pines: 36

Lower Lake: 22

Pope Valley: 1

Total: 1,281

SOURCE: Cal Fire Valley fire damage assessment report

More Info: PDF: Valley Incident Damage Inspection Report