Owner of Hodad’s found dead, no evidence of foul play

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – No evidence of foul play was found in the Chowchilla hotel room where the body of the owner of the iconic San Diego burger joint Hodad’s was discovered, a Madera County sheriff’s lieutenant said today.

The staff of a Holiday Inn off state Route 99 found Mike Hardin, 56, deceased around 2 p.m. Thursday, Lt. Bill Ward told City News Service.

“There is no evidence of foul play,” Ward said.

Hardin had checked in the night before, Ward said. He said that given it’s location, the hotel would be a reasonable location for a traveler to pull over for the night.

Various reports said Hardin had been visiting family in Northern California or Oregon.

An autopsy was pending, according to Ward.

Both Hodad’s eateries, in Ocean Beach and downtown, were temporarily closed until Sunday at 11 a.m., according to the restaurant’s website. Mourners were leaving flowers and cards outside the Ocean Beach location at 5010 Newport Ave.

“The Hodad’s family is completely devastated by the news of Mike Hardin’s untimely passing,” a note on the website said.

Hardin’s parents opened the original restaurant in Ocean Beach in 1969. He became a neighborhood fixture and was known as “Bossman,” which he had tattooed onto his knuckles.

Hodad’s added the downtown location on Broadway at 10th Avenue several years ago, and now runs a concession at Petco Park during the Padres season.

While well-known locally, Hodad’s gained national attention in 2007 when featured on “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” on The Food Network.

On his Twitter account, “Triple-D” host Guy Fieri said, “RIP Mike Hardin `boss man.’ You helped the world in so many ways. We will miss you everyday.”

Hodad’s was already planning to be closed Saturday to celebrate the life an employee, Kyle Witkowski, killed in a car crash last month.

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