ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A longtime restaurant in Zeeland is a total loss after a fire broke out Tuesday night, fire officials say.
Zeeland Fire Chief Ross Tibbets told News 8 that crews were called around 11 p.m. Tuesday for a report of a fire at the Community Restaurant located on E. Main Avenue between Maple and Carlton streets.
When firefighters arrived, flames were seen coming out of the restaurant’s roof.
No one was inside the building at the time of the blaze. There were no reports of injuries.
Tibbets said the building is considered a total loss.
Many, including Jacky, a former employee of the restaurant, are in disbelief seeing what’s left.
Jacky used to work as a prep cook at the restaurant and was stunned with what’s left of a place near and dear to her heart.
She is even willing to donate her most recent paycheck because of how much the staff meant to her.
“I thought I was dreaming, and I literally pinched myself because this is an icon for Zeeland,” Jacky said. “They are a loving, caring people. They make you feel — when they talk to you, they make you feel part of the family.”
Noah Beadle, who lives and works nearby, reflected on the warm greetings he got whenever he visited and ate there.
“They make you feel welcome and treat you really good,” Beadle said.
Albert Gerrits can be considered a longtime customer, dining there almost every day for the last four years. He was literally shocked when he saw the restaurant no longer there.
“I just feel for those people … no work now, no tips. It’s a shame,” Gerrits said. “They go out of their way. They are so nice to me. They treat me like their own.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
In a Facebook post Wednesday morning, the restaurant said in part, “We are in shock and have no idea what our future holds, but also thankful that the fire happened after hours with no one in the building and there were no injuries or worse. At this time there are many questions but until there is an investigation we can not speculate as to the cause. We ask for your prayers for everyone affected as this will no doubt be a hard time in the weeks and months to come.”
Roads in the area were closed for several hours as crews worked to put out the flames and investigated. All lanes have since reopened.