“We will rebuild”: Christo’s burns overnight, owner resolved to return

Published 5:24 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

SALISBURY — Christo’s Family Restaurant, a long-time wing stop in Salisbury, unexpectedly caught fire Wednesday morning, suffering extensive damage to the interior, but the owner vows that she will be back.

“We have been here for 28 years on June 1,” said owner Sophia Talarantas. “The community loves us, and we love the community. Even at three o’clock in the morning, they were standing across the street … there were people coming out of their houses. And saying ‘we know you are hard workers, we are sorry.'”

Talarantas offered a resolved promise to her patrons.

“We will rebuild,” Talarantas said. “The building is very strong. Nothing happened to the walls, but the inside is a big mess.”

The three-alarm fire broke out shortly before 2 a.m., with Salisbury Fire Department responding in approximately two minutes.

“By the time I got here, the fire department was so close, even though I live five minutes away, they were already here,” Talarantas said.

Captain Shawn McBride of the Salisbury Fire Department confirmed that fire was showing when the fire department arrived.

“We had flames through the roof as well,” McBride said.

A call was put out to Kannapolis for assistance, as several Salisbury-area departments were simultaneously combating a blaze on the northwest side of town that destroyed a single-wide home.

According to McBride, the fire was under control within about 45 minutes and put out around 3:20 a.m., but not before significant damage to the building had occurred.

The cause for the blaze was cited as an accidental grease fire.

According to fire department personnel, no one was inside the building at the time, but the fire appeared to have been smoldering behind a wall for a while.

“Behind the hood system is where the fire started, so the heat started going up through the vents (into the attic area),” McBride said.

By midday, Talarantas had compiled an inventory of the damage.

“They would not let us go in early this morning,” Talarantas said. “(When) my nephew went in, he said it was really bad. I looked in through the side door, and all the ceiling tiles and everything were down in the dining room. We had a TV that said our specials that exploded. The kitchen is pretty much gone.”

Compounding matters, Talarantas had only recently finished renovating the restaurant.

“We are still paying for it,” Talarantas said. “Of course, it was an expense, but we were working through it. It’s a shame now to have to start again.”

Even during such personal turmoil, Talarantas thought of her staff.

“I don’t know how long it is going to take,” Talarantas said. “A lot of people depend on us for their livelihood. When the phone rang, it was one of my servers. They have been calling me since the night asking what happened.”

She thought of something she heard as a little girl that her grandmother would often say.

“One hand washes the other, but both hands wash the face.”