Heartbreak in Paradise: Juan Gomez’s Dodger-Themed Restaurant Lost to Hawaii Wildfire

In a tragic turn of events, Juan Gomez, owner of the beloved Dodger-themed restaurant "Penne Pasta" in Lahaina, Hawaii, saw his lifelong dream reduced to ashes as a devastating wildfire ravaged the historic whaling village.

A Dodgers Fan’s Dream Turned to Ashes

Juan Gomez loses Dodger-themed restaurant to Hawaii wildfire - Los Angeles Times

Juan Gomez’s journey from a small town in Mexico to Lahaina, Hawaii, is a testament to his unwavering passion for the Los Angeles Dodgers. As a young boy, he was captivated by the legendary Fernando Valenzuela, and it was this connection that ignited his lifelong devotion to the Dodgers.

> "The only games televised where Gomez lived were when Valenzuela took the mound. And he tried to watch every one of them."

From Mexico to Maui: A Lifelong Love for the Dodgers

In 1991, Gomez moved to Montebello, California, where his love for the Dodgers continued to grow. He never missed a game, and over the years, he amassed an impressive collection of Dodgers memorabilia, including bobbleheads of Dodgers greats like Sandy Koufax, Clayton Kershaw, Vin Scully, and more.

> "Inside a glass case at Penne Pasta was an eclectic collection: a color photo of Sandy Koufax, a Ron Cey glove, and an Austin Barnes 2020 World Series jersey. All were autographed."

A Dream Restaurant Turns to Ashes

In 2010, Gomez’s dreams came true when he acquired Penne Pasta, a Dodger-themed restaurant, from his mentor and friend, Mark Ellman, a renowned Hawaiian chef. Gomez, with his dedication and passion, turned the restaurant into a beloved local spot known for its Italian cuisine and Dodgers memorabilia.

> "Ellman, who died in February at 67, was a famed Hawaiian chef and restaurant owner. He sold Penne Pasta to Gomez in 2010, financing the loan on his own."

A Heartbreaking Loss

On August 8, Lahaina was struck by a monstrous wildfire, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Penne Pasta, with all its cherished Dodgers memorabilia, was reduced to ashes.

> "It is very frustrating that the dreams of so many people who worked hard for so many years to build their house, their business, through sweat and tears, and to get something for their family, and in one night…"

Hope Amidst the Ashes

Despite the devastating loss of his restaurant, Juan Gomez finds solace in the fact that his family and employees are safe. He mourns the loss of friends who were customers turned friends, some of whom perished in the wildfire.

> "One part of me is gone, but I haven’t lost any family members, and all 10 of our employees, including my sister, Martha Yepez, are accounted for and are safe. I have lost some friends who were customers who became friends."

An Uncertain Future

As Gomez faces an uncertain future, he reflects on the importance of life beyond baseball. While he once never missed watching a Dodgers game, he now focuses on rebuilding his life and business.

> "This is the longest that I haven’t been working in 28 years. It’s still too early to decide what we want to do, and it’s not 100% our decision."

Insurance matters regarding the restaurant building remain unresolved, adding to the challenges ahead.


Juan Gomez’s heartbreaking loss of his Dodger-themed restaurant in the Hawaii wildfire serves as a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity. While his cherished memorabilia may have turned to ashes, the love and support of his family, friends, and loyal customers shine as a beacon of hope amidst the ruins.

Recovery Challenges and Support Efforts in the Aftermath of the Blaze

Were businesses destroyed in the Lahaina fire?

Yes, the devastating Lahaina fire wreaked havoc on the Maui tourist hub, causing extensive damage to its thriving business landscape. Nearly 1,000 business establishments, the lifeblood of the community, fell victim to the flames, leaving a trail of destruction in their wake. The fire’s ferocity spared very few, and the aftermath was a grim testament to the resilience required for recovery in the face of such adversity.

What parts of Maui are destroyed?

The relentless fires that swept through Maui, particularly in the historic town of Lahaina, have left a devastating impact. These fires mark one of the deadliest fire incidents in the past century in the United States. Tragically, over 100 people have lost their lives, and the whereabouts of approximately 1,300 individuals remain unknown. In the heart of Lahaina, situated in West Maui, the flames wrought havoc by damaging or destroying more than 2,200 homes, apartment complexes, and various other structures, forever altering the landscape and the lives of its residents.

What happened to Maui Island?

Tragedy struck Maui Island with the eruption of deadly wildfires on August 8, marking the most devastating natural disaster in Hawaii’s history, as confirmed by officials. The rapid spread of these fires was exacerbated by an unfortunate combination of factors, including prolonged drought conditions and the forceful presence of powerful winds. This unfortunate convergence of circumstances resulted in widespread devastation and loss.

Did kimos in Maui burn down?

Yes, tragically, Kimo’s Restaurant in Lahaina, Hawaii, has been lost to the devastating wildfires. The iconic establishment, known for its Hawaiian charm and cuisine, fell victim to the destructive flames, leaving behind memories of a cherished dining spot in the heart of Lahaina.

What caused the Lahaina fire?

The Lahaina fire was triggered by a series of events on August 8. Videos captured by homeowners in Lahaina revealed that strong winds, which snapped utility poles and lines along Lahainaluna Road shortly after 6:30 a.m., played a pivotal role. These falling utility lines ignited the tall grass and brush below. Fortunately, the swift response of Maui County firefighters, who arrived within minutes, helped to contain and combat the flames.

How did the fire in Maui start?

The fire that ravaged Maui on the morning of August 8 appears to have its origins in power lines that fell amidst strong winds. It was reported that bare electrical wire, capable of sparking on contact, and leaning utility poles in Maui were potential factors contributing to the ignition.

“How did the Hawaii wildfire affect Juan Gomez’s restaurant?”

Juan Gomez’s restaurant, along with his cherished Dodgers memorabilia, was tragically lost in the catastrophic wildfire. The devastating blaze consumed not only his business but also his precious collection. Despite this profound loss, there’s a glimmer of hope as Mark Langill, Dodgers team historian, has pledged to replace a significant portion of the memorabilia, exemplifying camaraderie among collectors. Gomez, however, remains acutely aware that his personal losses pale in comparison to the immense tragedy that befell West Maui and its residents.

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