Firefighters say an electrical problem is to blame for a blaze that broke out at the Stray Dog Bar and Grill Tuesday night.
The restaurant was packed with people when employees noticed smoke inside just before 9 p.m. At the time, there was a 30 to 45-minute wait for a table.
“We all just ran out there was smoke everywhere, we had to get the customers out,” said Stray Dog employee Shannon Vanpelt. “There were customers taking their food with them.”
Customers and workers got out just moments before large flames poured over the roof and sides of the buildings.
Crews were dousing the structure with water into the early hours of Wednesday morning before the flames were extinguished.
Once the smoke cleared, dozens of residents stopped by Wednesday afternoon to survey the damage.
“I came here after work and I just started crying a bit because it's the Stray Dog, a family atmosphere type place,” said Ed Stewart, who works in New Buffalo. “It's a landmark here.”
The owner hasn’t said what’s next for the restaurant, but he still owns the building where the Stray Dog used to be located.
Residents are hopeful the popular eatery will be rebuilt sometime soon.
“The Stray Dog is resilient,” said Mike Mooney, who owns the ice cream shop next door. “They'll be good.”
Stray Dog employees will meet with management at 4 p.m. Friday to discuss what’s next for them and the restaurant.