Fire burns through Cedarburg restaurant

CREATED Feb 5, 2013 - UPDATED: Feb 5, 2013

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CEDARBURG - Firefighters spent early Tuesday morning battling a three-alarm fire at a strip mall in Cedarburg.

The fire began at about 10:30 p.m. Monday night at Rich's Restaurant, near the corner of Washington Avenue and Pioneer Road.

People driving by the location could see roof damage and a hole that firefighters made to help battle the fire.

An employee told TODAY'S TMJ4's Nick Montes that the restaurant is a second home to a lot of people.  It was busy on a regular basis.

"It's shocking.  It's really the only word for your work burning down," explained employee Kate Neumiller.

After three years as a waitress there, she has to find another job, at least for now.

"I'm also in school, and I'm also supposed to be starting a little bit of work there additionally, so that's helpful.

Cedarburg's fire chief told Nick that cold weather brought on the big response of firefighters, so that firefighters could rotate and keep warm in frigid temperatures.

He believes the fire started in the kitchen.

''It was on the grill itself," said Chief Rich Van Dinter. 

"It got up into the ventilation system.  I'm assuming there was some grease build up over the years and that just helped added to the fire spread."

Van Dinter told Nick that the restaurant took on extended damage.

A wine store and Mexican restaurant also took on damage and were expected to close on Tuesday.

"This is probably one of the worst things that can happen to a restaurant owner," explained Miguel Herrera of Jalisco Mexican Food.

"Our damage isn't really too bad, just a bit of smoke damage, a couple of water pipes burst."

He said his restaurant would need about a week to make repairs.