COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - For many loyal customers, eating at Ruth Ann's is like being in their own kitchen. Customers like Mary Walker, who has been coming to the restaurant three times a week for the past 10 years.
"The food is fabulous. The waitresses are like family to us. They have watched our daughter grow up. It's just a family atmosphere.That's what makes Ruth Ann's, Ruth Ann's- the fact that when my husband comes in in the morning, they know what he wants and they don't give him more than he should have," she said.
But now, the popular kitchen is closed after a fire started inside Wednesday night.
"It's very emotional. It's sad. So many people come to Ruth Ann's every day and love the food and love what we do, love our family. Everyone's been so supportive and great and they want to see us get back up in business and that's what we're doing," said Lisa Keane. Her mother is Ruth Ann.
Officials with Columbus Fire and EMS say it was an electrical fire, caused by a short in the door switch going into the restaurant's walk-in freezer.
Flames took their toll on the roof and kitchen, leaving behind about $100,000 worth of damage.
"I think it's a terrible tragedy but like most families, everybody will get together and pull together and Ruth Ann's will be back in business. They better be fairly soon- I already miss the bacon," Walker said.
"It could have been far, far worse so we're really blessed. It's just a matter of rebuilding and starting over and it'll be bigger and better than ever," Keane added.
Loyal customers of Ruth Ann's have come together and set up a fund at Wachovia Banks to help support the employees as the crews work to get the restaurant back up and running.
The owners expect clean up and renovations to take anywhere between two weeks and a month.