ROLLA, Mo. - A restaurant that opened almost a half-century ago is gone.
The general manager of Sirloin Stockade said the company that owns the restaurant will rebuild after Tuesday night's fire. That was good news to folks who have visited the establishment for special occasions over the years.
"I shed a lot of tears (Tuesday) night," said Kevin Bramlett, general manager.
Sadness overwhelmed folks when they saw the fire.
"I was just heartbroken. I work near there, so I know a lot of the people who work there," said James Parry, a frequent customer. "It's just synonymous with our town."
The fire started around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Customers and employees escaped unharmed. The fire began on the roof in the heating system. The flames had an hour head start before anyone realized the building was burning.
"Quickly, the fire outran us. When we arrived, the fire was showing through the roof. We called in additional personnel," said Rolla Fire and Rescue Chief Ron Smith said.
It was a tough battle in the freezing rain, but none of the firefighters was hurt.
Bramlett said he started working at Sirloin Stockade as a dishwasher 31 years ago.
"Seeing that much of my life go up in smoke," he said. "And feeling for my employees that are out of work now and just for the community themselves."
Bramlett said families celebrated birthdays here and couples celebrated anniversaries. He was hoping to find a way to keep full time on the payroll while the restaurant is rebuilt.
Not only is it special to people in Rolla, the chief said Sirloin Stockade has been on the front lines when it comes to raising money for local charities.
"They've been very supportive of the community over the years for various agencies, helping every endeavor so we're going to help them through this crisis," Chief Smith said.
It's the second fire at the restaurant. The last fire was in 1992 and it closed the restaurant for four months.