An oil container behind downtown Tacoma’s Happy Teriyaki #4 caught fire Wednesday, resulting in severe damage to the popular downtown sushi and teriyaki restaurant known for its sushi burritos and poke bowls.
The restaurant at 2223 Pacific Ave. expects it will be closed about six months, but that estimate could change as damage is assessed.
Owner Tim Bartz, who operates three other Happy Teriyaki restaurants in the region, said the cause of the fire is still under investigation but that the blaze appears to have started outside.
“We have a big canister outside of old fryer oil,” Bartz said. “Somehow that caught on fire, and it’s right next to the building. It spread to the restaurant.”
The fire moved inside to the kitchen. Kitchen equipment suffered extensive damage during the fire and as firefighters were trying to extinguish the flames. Because of the extent of the damage, his best guess is that it will take several months to rebuild the restaurant.
“We put so much heart and soul in this location down here,” he said. “It’s devastating.”
Bartz said his primary concerns are for his employees and customers with catering orders. He and his workers hustled yesterday to fulfill catering orders out of Happy Teriyaki’s Fife location. That restaurant has a similar menu to Happy Teriyaki #4 downtown.
He’s working on moving some employees to other Happy Teriyaki #4 locations and exploring options for the other employees who he can’t find jobs for.
Since it opened in downtown Tacoma in 2010, Happy Teriyaki has been more ambitious than a simple fast-food teriyaki joint. It’s known for its well-priced sushi rolls and for experimenting with a variety of popular food trends. The restaurant launched sushi burritos in 2016 along with their popular build-your-own poke bowls.
Bartz recommends diners in search of sushi, poke bowls or sushi burritos head to his Fife Happy Teriyaki #4 location because the menus are virtually identical.
He also operates a location in Lacey and a new one in Parkland, but that menu is more limited and does not have sushi, sushi burritos or poke bowls.
The Bartz family previously owned the Lakewood Happy Teriyaki #4 but sold that restaurant several years ago.
Happy Teriyaki #4
Fife: 4910 Pacific Hwy E., Fife,; 253-896-3668
Parkland: 12154 Pacific Ave. S. Tacoma; 253-531-1818
Lacey: 8205 Martin Way E, Lacey; 360-413-9000