The owner of the iconic Ocean Beach hamburger joint Hodad's died of natural causes, Madera County Sheriff's Department confirmed Tuesday.
Lt. Bill Ward said Mike Hardin died late last week of a heart attack.
Staff discovered Hardin's body at a Holiday Inn in Chowchilla just after 2 p.m. Thursday, sheriff's department officials said.
Among those who were saddened at the news was restaurant owner and Food Network personality Guy Fieri who considered Hardin one of the most generous people he's known.
"He embraced life with a tremendous amount of appreciation," Fieri said of the restaurant owner who was featured on the show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."
Hodad's has since expanded to include other locations including Petco Park and downtown San Diego.
Hundreds left comments on NBC 7's Facebook page, remembering Hardin's personable nature and lauding his restaurant as one of San Diego's best.
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