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Holy Frijoles will reopen this month, one year after fire

Holy Frijoles owner Geoffrey Danek has spent the last year as a construction worker. Now, he said, he’s ready to get back to culinary work.

Holy Frijoles, a Mexican eatery in Hampden, will reopen later this month, a year after a fire destroyed its kitchen on Aug. 15, 2016.

Danek said he’s planning to host a friends-and-family night Aug. 9 at the restaurant at 908 W. 36th St., after which he plans to spend a little more time getting his new kitchen up to speed before fully reopening. A date for the restaurant’s official reopening has not been firmly set, but Danek said it will be before the end of the month.

Although the fire “melted” the restaurant’s kitchen, Danek said it gave him the chance to expand the work space in the back of the house and add new equipment, including a flat-top grill and larger chargrill.

”We’ve got a whole new kitchen going on here, so I really want to get in there and start having some fun,” Danek said. “I think it’s going to be such an improvement, such a great work space to be able to do some really cool food.”

Danek said he has spent time at home perfecting some of the recipes for dishes on Holy Frijoles’ menu, which will largely stay the same — with offerings like nachos, burritos, chimichangas and enchiladas. He said he hopes to add more seafood to the menu, but isn’t making any promises.

“We’re just going to do what feels right,” he said.

When Holy Frijoles reopens, the restaurant will be in its 21st year. The last year of rebuilding has been tough, Danek said.

“I kind of didn’t feel like I would see this day ever, so it’s been this long sort of emotional roller coaster of at times wanting to give up and other times just charging forward,” he said. “I’m just grinding down to get open for Baltimore again.”

Because the fire was contained in the kitchen, Danek said diners won’t notice too many changes when they return. Danek’s crew repainted the walls, which were damaged by smoke. And the restaurant’s pinball machines will make a comeback.

”We didn’t want to totally revamp the place so that it didn’t feel like home,” he said. “We sort of mimicked what was there before.”

Many of Holy Frijoles’ employees are returning, Danek said.

He hopes the reopening goes smoothly.

“The idea is to not really rush it. You come 21 years and it’s like, ‘Don’t blow it!’” he said. “You want to make sure everything’s working like a well-oiled bean.”

smeehan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sarahvmeehan

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