HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — An early-morning fire damaged Smitty’s Better Burger restaurant in Hampton.
The city’s fire department said in a Facebook post crews responded to the restaurant on of N. King Street just before 5:30 a.m. The post included photos, which showed firefighters on the roof of the restaurant.
Dispatchers told WAVY.com around 6:40 a.m. the fire was out. No injuries were reported.
Battalion Chief Mick Barilla said the fire started at the back of the restaurant.
Responding firefighters found gray smoke coming from the restaurant’s roof and roof line, Barilla said.
Crews were able to get the fire under control in around 15 minutes. Barilla said firefighters remained on scene after that to extinguish the remaining hot spots.
Barilla said the restaurant suffered fire, heat, smoke and water damage, and cannot be used at the moment. It’s unclear what may have cause the fire or whether the building will be condemned.
The restaurant said in a Facebook post it would not be opening Thursday.
Owner Paul Smith says he was crushed when his daughter called to tell him about the fire.
“Tore me all up. It’s like my family here,” he said.
Smith, who is a Marine Corps veteran, opened the restaurant in 1956.
He says he was concerned about his employees after seeing the fire.
“Makes you sick to look at it. Everything was going so good, “ he said.
Customers stopped by the building to check in on Smith and some employees there.
“My first time coming here I was about four or five years old. I came with my parents. I fell in love with it then and have loved it ever since,” said Karen Courtney, who is a customer.
Courtney says the food and the love shown by Smith and his employees has made the restaurant a staple in the community.
“I know it’s going to be a big loss for a while till they get it back up and open,” she said.
Smith believes it could take a couple of months to get it back up but will because his employees are counting on him.
“Don’t know how long it will take but everybody who works for me is like family so, a lot of them depend on me,” he said.