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The sad fate of San Diego Wienerschnitzels

Chula Vista, Kearny Mesa, Hillcrest, El Cajon

Chula Vista abandoned Wienerschnitzel on fire
Chula Vista abandoned Wienerschnitzel on fire

A former Wienerschnitzel A-frame building in Chula Vista caught on fire again, marking the tenth reported blaze at a California-based Wienerschnitzel building in the last couple of years.

Right before 11:30 am on March 9, the closed-down hot dog restaurant on 493 Broadway in Chula Vista ignited. The mid-century style A-frame building was engulfed in flames when the Chula Vista Fire Department arrived, as depicted on a video posted by 619 News Media. "The cause is under investigation, but according to CVFD, there have been issues with transients occupying the structure in the past," reads the news outlet's caption. "There were no reports of any injuries."

This is the second burning at this shuttered hot dog locale formerly known as Der Wienerschnitzel (when the chain was founded in 1961). The first blaze in the same building was in December 2021. "A small fire created by three transient men Sunday morning to keep warm broke out of control," reads the Chula Vista Today report on the 2021 incident.

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About a year earlier and up the 805 north in Kearny Mesa, another Wienerschnitzel on Convoy Road caught fire.

Janet Telumbre, a then Wienerschnitzel employee, said she first heard a "small explosion" in a Fox 5 San Diego interview. "And I saw the smoke coming out of the top... I saw [it] in the camera, like smoking."

Another abandoned Wienerschnitzel A-frame building at West Washington Street in Hillcrest was occupied by "houseless folks" in 2016, according to Steve J., who used to purchase chili dogs here. "It was tagged, and we worried this place might catch on fire," he said, "but luckily, it didn't. Instead, it became a cute purple coffee and soda place."

Robert Neal frequents El Compadre Taco Shop on North 2nd Street in El Cajon as "the building was the old Wienerschnitzel," he recalls. "Always brings back memories going to this place." But, of course, Neal can always go to the Wienerschnitzel on Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

In San Diego County, there are other thriving Wienerschnitzels — which roughly translates to breaded pan-fried veal cutlets in German — there are locations in Pacific Beach, City Heights, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, Spring Valley, Escondido, and Oceanside. And while the restaurants are notorious for their hot dog and burger varieties and chili fries, they don't make the special namesake cutlets anymore. Instead, in 2023, more than 60 years after its So-Cal inception, Wienerschnitzel sells breakfast, sandwiches, and Tastee Freeze desserts.

And remember the Kearny Mesa Wienerschnitzel that caught on fire in 2020? "It's nice to see they are up and running again after the fire they had," commented Natasha Y., an Elite 2023 Yelp reviewer. "[The] food is like every other Wienerschnitzel — so not bad, not great. Chili dog and chili cheese fries were hot and good and still came out fast."

The other Wienerschnitzels ignited in California didn't fare as well as the Kearny Mesa restaurant. A Sacramento locale burned twice; in 2021, a San Jose Wienerschnitzel burned its fourth time; and that same year, a Bakersfield location caught on fire.

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Chula Vista abandoned Wienerschnitzel on fire
Chula Vista abandoned Wienerschnitzel on fire

A former Wienerschnitzel A-frame building in Chula Vista caught on fire again, marking the tenth reported blaze at a California-based Wienerschnitzel building in the last couple of years.

Right before 11:30 am on March 9, the closed-down hot dog restaurant on 493 Broadway in Chula Vista ignited. The mid-century style A-frame building was engulfed in flames when the Chula Vista Fire Department arrived, as depicted on a video posted by 619 News Media. "The cause is under investigation, but according to CVFD, there have been issues with transients occupying the structure in the past," reads the news outlet's caption. "There were no reports of any injuries."

This is the second burning at this shuttered hot dog locale formerly known as Der Wienerschnitzel (when the chain was founded in 1961). The first blaze in the same building was in December 2021. "A small fire created by three transient men Sunday morning to keep warm broke out of control," reads the Chula Vista Today report on the 2021 incident.

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About a year earlier and up the 805 north in Kearny Mesa, another Wienerschnitzel on Convoy Road caught fire.

Janet Telumbre, a then Wienerschnitzel employee, said she first heard a "small explosion" in a Fox 5 San Diego interview. "And I saw the smoke coming out of the top... I saw [it] in the camera, like smoking."

Another abandoned Wienerschnitzel A-frame building at West Washington Street in Hillcrest was occupied by "houseless folks" in 2016, according to Steve J., who used to purchase chili dogs here. "It was tagged, and we worried this place might catch on fire," he said, "but luckily, it didn't. Instead, it became a cute purple coffee and soda place."

Robert Neal frequents El Compadre Taco Shop on North 2nd Street in El Cajon as "the building was the old Wienerschnitzel," he recalls. "Always brings back memories going to this place." But, of course, Neal can always go to the Wienerschnitzel on Mission Gorge Road in Santee.

In San Diego County, there are other thriving Wienerschnitzels — which roughly translates to breaded pan-fried veal cutlets in German — there are locations in Pacific Beach, City Heights, La Mesa, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, Spring Valley, Escondido, and Oceanside. And while the restaurants are notorious for their hot dog and burger varieties and chili fries, they don't make the special namesake cutlets anymore. Instead, in 2023, more than 60 years after its So-Cal inception, Wienerschnitzel sells breakfast, sandwiches, and Tastee Freeze desserts.

And remember the Kearny Mesa Wienerschnitzel that caught on fire in 2020? "It's nice to see they are up and running again after the fire they had," commented Natasha Y., an Elite 2023 Yelp reviewer. "[The] food is like every other Wienerschnitzel — so not bad, not great. Chili dog and chili cheese fries were hot and good and still came out fast."

The other Wienerschnitzels ignited in California didn't fare as well as the Kearny Mesa restaurant. A Sacramento locale burned twice; in 2021, a San Jose Wienerschnitzel burned its fourth time; and that same year, a Bakersfield location caught on fire.

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