Popular downtown eatery catches fire

Simple Simon’s Bakery & Bistro


Simple Simon’s, one of downtown’s most popular eateries, caught fire around 2 a.m. this past Friday, causing what the owners hope will be only a temporary closure.
Initial reports point to an electrical fire as the possible cause, with damage estimates of roughly $175,000. No major damage was reported in adjacent stores and cleanup has already started on the restaurant.
Known for their gourmet deli sandwiches made with freshly-baked bread, the often crowded eatery and bakery opened on the Main Street pedestrian mall in 1996. It quickly became a favorite among the lunch time crowds, with patrons filling the outdoor tables located on the pedestrian mall between the restaurant and the Mission Inn.
Photos from the 1940s show “1905 Backstrand” stamped atop the building, indicating the building dates back at least 100 years.
According to a 1963 city permit issued for an aluminum facade, the building was still owned by the Backstrand family. It’s likely the 1963 facade is the same mid-century style metal screen that adorns the building today.

Sources: City of Riverside, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, The Press-Enterprise

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