A popular family-owned South Jersey diner went up in flames overnight leaving the restaurant badly damaged and those that worked and ate there devastated.
Flames broke out around midnight at the Country Town Diner at 50 South White Horse Pike in Berlin. Smoke could be seen billowing into the air from miles away.
"It doesn't look good, no good," diner owner Thomas Giannisis said.
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It would take firefighters about 90 minutes to bring the fire under control. No one was hurt.
The owner of the diner, a neighborhood fixture that was known as the White Horse Diner until about six months ago, said he and his parents closed around 10:30 p.m. after karaoke night Wednesday and was sleeping when he got the call.
More than one dozen employees are left without work.
"The customers are great, she loves coming to work every day, and she is going to be really upset over this," Kelly Reid, whose daughter works at the diner, said.
In the hours after the fire, Giannisis didn’t know if his family could reopen the diner but he "hopes he can" rebuild.
"I don't know where to go from here, to be honest," Giannisis said. "My mother is disabled, my father has heart problems... they are with me every day."
"It was our bread and butter."
The cause of the fire remained under investigation Thursday morning. Giannisis said he believes the fire began in the kitchen area.