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‘Forty years of my time, up in smoke’, says owner of Papa Dan’s Pizza and Pasta after devastating fire

Ira Mosley, the owner of a beloved pizza shop in Palm Desert is in disbelief after losing his restaurant.

“I'm still in shock to be honest with you," said Mosley. "I don't think it's totally sunk in yet.” Mosley watched Papa Dan's Pizza and Pasta burn to the ground early Sunday morning in a fire that reduced four businesses to rubble. It's a restaurant that first opened its doors back in 1984. The staff, only months away from celebrating its 40th anniversary in August.

“I got a phone call from a friend of ours that was going to Sherman's for breakfast at six o'clock, and they told me they saw the smoke and called us," said Mosley. "It broke my heart. It just was totally engulfed. I knew right then nothing was going to be left.” Fire fighters worked quickly to put the flames out, but their efforts weren't enough to save the building. Instead of running his restaurant, which would typically be packed with customers this time of year, Mosley spent the last few days swamped with meetings and questions from investigators.

"It was constant between the police and the fire department, the investigators, the insurance companies, and adjusters. The list goes on and on. And it's not going to stop from what I understand," Mosley said.

On Tuesday, Mosley stood inside what used to be his restaurant, at least what was left of it. He says the smell is something he will never forget.

“Nauseating," said Mosley as he scrunched his nose. "I can't even describe it to you to be honest. There are air conditioners that used to be on the roof sitting in the dining room. There's no roof at all. Everything is hanging everywhere, the smell of the smoke is disgusting, just disgusting. And that's what's left of Papa Dan's.”

Now, Mosley is worried about the future of his loyal employees.

"We employ 45 people. Some of them have been here over 30 years. And that's my big concern is all these people are now out of work. And, you know, summers coming and it's going to be it's gonna be tough on them," said Mosley, tears in his eyes.

Jan Harnik, the Mayor Pro Tem of the City of Palm Desert, says the effects of the fire are being felt across the city.

“They're the heart and soul of our community," said Harnik. "They're all small businesses. They mean a lot to so many people. And it really is a devastating loss to our community.” The Mayor Pro Tem also says the city will do everything it can to help the employees and business owners get back on their feet when they are ready to rebuild.

"They're our neighbors. They're our community members," said Harnik. "They are partners with us. And when they are ready, and when they can come back, we're here at the city to help them come back. And to give any hand to them that we can to help them with their permits, and to help them get back up and running.”

If you would like to help support the local businesses, a Go-FundMe for D'Coffee Bouteaque has been set up to off-set costs to rebuild.

As for Mosley, he's determined to bring Papa Dan's back to the Palm Desert community.

"I guess I'm retired for a while. Not by choice, but it is what it is. We will be back," said Mosley.

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Tori King


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