Crime - Sacto 911

Land Park’s Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine catches fire in possible arson

Queen Sheba Ethiopian Cuisine, a traditional restaurant that has been a Land Park fixture for 15 years, caught fire early Monday morning in a possible arson.

Owner Zion Taddese said she received a call from the Sacramento Fire Department at 4:30 a.m. and first thought it was a kitchen fire. But she said security footage provided by a neighboring business on Broadway showed a person driving up and intentionally starting the fire.

Taddese hasn’t seen the video herself yet, but a fire investigator told her that the fire was being investigated as being set deliberately, she said.

“Our hearts are heavy with shock and sadness that someone would do this to our beloved restaurant,” a post on Queen Sheba’s Facebook page said.

Taddese said she didn’t know why someone would target Queen Sheba, especially when she gets broad support from the surrounding community, but she considered possibly being the victim of a hate crime.

“It’s not like we have a lot of black businesses in Sacramento,” Taddese said. “If that is the case I just feel bad for them.”

Fire damage to the restaurant at 1704 Broadway was minimal and contained to the front exterior of the building due to a large fireproof entry door, Taddese said.

“God was on our side, that’s all I can say with the amount of fire they say was coming out of the restaurant,” Taddese said.

The restaurant will be temporarily closing down, but Taddese said she doesn’t expect it will be for long. She hopes to reopen within a few days, depending on how long it takes to work with her insurance provider and make the necessary repairs.

Sacramento City Councilman Steve Hansen, who represents the district Queen Sheba resides in, shared his support for the Ethiopian restaurant in his own post on Facebook.

“Queen Sheba is an amazing family owned restaurant, and I’m very glad that the SacFire Dept responded quickly to limit the damage,” Hansen said in the post. “However, I’m going to see what can be done to get them up & running ASAP. Hopefully their insurance will cover the damage, but our community loves them and will find ways to help.”

In a press release, the Sacramento Fire Department said the fire had been determined to be “suspicious.”

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Vincent Moleski covers business and breaking news for The Bee and is a graduate student in literature at Sacramento State. He was born and raised in Sacramento and previously wrote for the university’s student newspaper, the State Hornet.