Façade collapses, unnerving workers
SOMERVILLE — Manager Elias Lopez was standing at the lunch counter of Mixtura restaurant when he heard a boom and saw dust, the restaurant’s sign, and red bricks tumble from the roof of the Beacon Street building Monday morning.
In the kitchen of the Latin fusion restaurant, cook Carmen Pineda was terrified.
“I was so scared, my body shook,” Pineda said. “It was like, ‘Boom!’ Very loud.’’
Both feared they were in the midst of a terror bombing, they said.
“The thing that came into my mind was what happened at the Boston Marathon recently,’’ said Lopez. “It seemed the same — there was a lot of dust, and we couldn’t see outside the window.’’
The damage they saw out the front window of their restaurant was dramatic, the result of the collapse of the parapet wall on the one-story building.
The collapse showered the sidewalk with bricks, chunks of concrete, and mortar dust and forced the temporary shutdown of Mixtura and Zoe’s Gourmet Chinese Restaurant. No injuries were reported.
“Fortunately, there was nobody underneath it,’’ said Somerville Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Kelleher.
Kelleher said that the decorative wall on top of the building had probably been corroding for years and that, for some reason, some routine jostling triggered the collapse.
City records show the building was constructed in 1910.
“What caused it to say today is the day? Who knows?’’ Kelleher said. “It could have been a truck driving by.’’
The landlord, identified by officials as Stephanie Davos, arrived at the scene, became overcome by emotions, and declined to comment.
Officials and a friend said Davos’s father had died recently, and the image of seeing the property he owned heavily damaged overwhelmed her.
Kelleher said the landlord has several large decisions ahead, beginning with the hiring of a structural engineer to assess whether the structure can be repaired or must be taken down.
If the building is allowed to remain, Kelleher said, it could be several months before the two small restaurants, which together employ about 15 people, will open their doors again. He said utilities have been cut to the building while its structural integrity is examined.
The owner of Mixtura, Rosy Cerna, said she would try to find work for six people at her other Somerville restaurant, Machu Picchu, but she was not certain she could accommodate them all.
“We really like the area,’’ she said of the neighborhood where Mixtura has been open for about 19 months.
In a separate interview, Tina Zhou, the owner of Zoe’s, said that her restaurant was closed at the time of the collapse and that none of her 11 employees were near the structure when it happened.
With translating help from her friend, Zhou said she does not know what her next step will be or what she can do for her business or her employees.
“There’s lots of things to be looked at,’’ Zhou’s friend, Eesan Chen, said after speaking to Zhou in Mandarin.