The day after a fire broke out at a popular restaurant in uptown Lexington, fire officials continue to investigate the cause of the fire.
According to Lexington Fire Department Assistant Chief Michael Tofano, at approximately 3 p.m. firefighters responded to a call of a structure fire at Brooker T's Café at 103 S. Main Street. Upon arrival flames and smoke were visible outside the building.
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Tefano said the restaurant was closed at the time with no one inside and fire officials had to break the lock on the gate outside to gain entrance to the building. He said initial reports indicate the fire started in the seating area immediately inside the entrance, but an investigation is continuing.
The first floor of the restaurant received heavy damage due to the fire, but the second floor, annex dining area and bar and the kitchen sustained only heat and smoke damage. The business next door to restaurant, Magnolia's, sustained smoke damage but was not damaged by the fire.
Tofano said that due to the intensity of the fire, off duty Lexington Fire personnel were called in to assist with responding to the incident. Lexington was also assisted by fire departments in the surrounding area including, Linwood, West Lexington, Central, South Lexington, Fairgrove, Holly Grove and Tyro fire departments. Also, Davidson County EMS, Davidson County Fire Marshall's Office and Lexington Police Department.
Fire officials were on the scene until approximately 8 p.m. and several blocks of Main Street were closed for hours.
A statement on the Brooker T’s Café Facebook page said although the owners are still shaken by the events, they are appreciative of all the outpouring of support they have received.
“Momma T and Brooke are still in a bit of shock but let us tell you how humbled and blessed we feel. Today we felt the love of our entire city. Fellow business owners, city employees, officials, friends and family were all by our side today as we watched a dream go up in flames. Please know we love and appreciate #uptownlexington and all that it entails. To our city electric workers and multiple fire departments that came to help us in our time of need…. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We knew we had a special community and today was absolute proof of that. We will never have the words to show how proud we are to be a part of this city. Now to regroup and YES…. rebuild! We are many things, but we are faithful to the end,” the statement read.
Mike Turlington, who owns the building with family members, said he learned about the fire Tuesday while he was out of town for an appointment. A friend at a nearby office called him to tell him his building was on fire, and he returned home to see the damage as firefighters still worked to save most of the building.
"The main dining room is just gone," he said. "The kitchen has smoke and water damage and the upper dining room has smoke damage."
He said he talked with the Davidson County and Lexington City Fire Marshals, and said he was told it could be a week before they have a report ready about the cause of the fire.
According to witness statements, it was local business owners across the street from Brooker T’s Café that first noticed the building was on fire.
Matt Taylor, assistant manager at the Backyard Retreat, said he became aware when he saw the chef at Roots on Main standing in front of the building.
"I was walking through the store like I tend to do in the afternoon when I noticed Michael (Moorefield), the chef at Roots on Main, standing in front of Brooker T's on the phone and the gates were down. It was about 3 p.m. I was wondering why he was standing there and then I saw a flame through the window of the restaurant. It looked like the flame was where the podium is for the hostess when you go inside. I figured then he was on the phone with the fire department,” said Taylor.
Brooker T’s Café opened in April in the location of the former Café 35, by mother and daughter team Tammy Cornell and Brooke Bishop. They purchased the business from the owners of the former Café 35, which was in operation for 17 years.
As the news of the fire spread, other local business owners have begun to start fundraising efforts for the owners of Brooker T’s Café.
On Oct. 1, the owners of AxeHole Axe Throwing & Friction Skating Rink in Lexington will donate 20% of their proceeds to Brooker T’s Café to assist with repairs.
“With the tragic event and fire at Brooker T’s Café today, we would like to help our friends. As today unfolds, we can only hope and pray for the best outcome for Brooke and Tammy...Please share so we may come together as a community and help our friends,” read a statement from the business social media.
This article originally appeared on The Dispatch: Lexington Officials continue to investigate cause of Booker T's fire