ESCONDIDO, Calif. - Fire destroyed a popular restaurant in Escondido early Monday morning.
The fire at Spires Family Restaurant at 1215 E. Valley Parkway erupted around 3 a.m. It took several hours to contain the blaze.
A number of employees came to the restaurant once the sun came up to see the damage.
"Shock… sadness… loss," said Kimberly Forrest, who worked at the restaurant for 22 years. She was supposed to open the restaurant Monday morning.
Now, all she and other employees could do was stare while trying to comprehend that the beloved restaurant was gone.
"We're a team," said Forrest. "We're a team at work and our boss is very good to us. This is devastating for everybody."
Joe Gonsalvez, the restaurant's owner, consoled Forrest and the other workers Monday morning. About 30 people are now out of a job. However, they say their loyal customers matter more to them.
"They come in not just because it's a restaurant, but because of the family atmosphere," Gonsalvez said. "Everybody knows everybody."
Firefighters said one of the concerns in investigating the fire was the instability of the roof.
"The structure is significantly compromised and with the heavy air condition units up on the roof, we don't want to have any of that coming down on any of our personnel," said Capt. Art Holcolm, who is with the Escondido Fire Department.
The Spires' founder also came to look at the damage for himself.
"I've done business since 1959. To see this mess, I never saw it before," said John Haretakis, the founder of the chain. He said the Escondido restaurant has been in the community since 1987.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage is estimated at about $750,000.