Paso Del Norte closure extended to fall


Paso Del Norte’s reopening has been pushed to the fall as kitchen upgrades needed after a fire in late March have become more extensive than the restaurant owners initially expected.

The fire started around 7 a.m. March 29 and is considered to be accidental, according to Joel Nielsen, deputy fire marshal at North Whatcom Fire and Rescue. Investigators concluded that a stock pot burner was turned on and ignited built-up grease on the side of an adjacent appliance. Nielsen said the fire burned into the exhaust hood and the suppression system was activated, but did not discharge an extinguishing agent onto the fire. The fire report was finished May 28.

The downtown Blaine restaurant was originally anticipated to be closed a month to repair the damaged hood ventilation system, but Paso Del Norte’s general contractor found more things that needed to be repaired or brought up to code, owner Miguel Ramos said.

Necessary updates include the ovens being brought up to code, electrical work on cables that burned, replacing the gas line, a new walk-in cooler, new firewalls and redoing flooring, Ramos said. He said the restaurant doesn’t have an estimate on how much the repairs will cost.

“Everything has to go, step by step,” Ramos said. “We’ll have a brand new kitchen.”

Ramos said it was unfortunate the restaurant would be closed through summer, and he worries about business in the winter once it reopens.

Ramos said he hopes the community can support the restaurant by eating there when it opens. People can also purchase gift cards at and a GoFundMe was started on behalf of Ramos and his employees who lost their jobs at As of press time, the GoFundMe, which started shortly after the fire, has raised $5,920 of its $10,000 goal.

Ramos purchased the restaurant, previously called “El Sombrero,” at 20 years old and opened it August 8, 1995.

Paso Del Norte is located at 758 Peace Portal Drive.

“I’m grateful to have big support from the community,” Ramos said. “We’re trying the best we can to go faster for it to reopen.”


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