CRANE, Texas (Nexstar) – A popular restaurant in Crane has burned down.
The Crane Volunteer Fire Department says ‘My Friends Grill’ caught fire early Tuesday morning.
“It took a few hours. We had high winds, so that did not help us one bit with the high winds,” said firefighter Lupe Villegas.
The fire department said the damage makes the building a complete loss. The owner of the restaurant, Norma Pinedo, stopped by to see what was left of her business.
“You know, that’s how they look at it: as their friends’ grill. They were very comfortable there, the food was awesome,” said Pinedo. “If they lived in Crane, they ate here.”
Norma said the restaurant was always growing. She said staff who used to work at the restaurant later have family who were also involved with the business.
“Their kids were basically raised in here,” Pinedo said. “Now they got kids of their own. And now their kids are coming here.”
Like Norma says, this wasn’t just a restaurant. It was a place for the community, for families. You could see the restaurant coming down the road by its iconic windmill, the only thing that is still standing.
“That’s a landmark. I’m just devastated by it,” said Penny Prophitt.
“I was shocked. I’m like ‘No, not My Friends Grill. No…'” said Tonya, another restaurant regular.
“I was shocked because I couldn’t believe it when I saw it on my cell phone, the local news, ‘Crane restaurant burns.’ I said, ‘it can’t be,'” said Anabelia Espinoza.
Shannon Mobley stopped by to see the restaurant. He grew up in the oilfields. Shannon says this was the place to get good food.
“This was kind of, kind of like coming home to eat lunch when you couldn’t get home. That was the quality of the food they had,” Mobley said.
“We had the best chicken fries, the best hamburger steak, the best chicken strips,” Norma Pinedo said. “Because it had all that homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.”
Everything at ‘My Friends Grill’ was country cooking. But even better than the food was the hospitality.
“The people inside, they always had a very friendly wait staff,” Mobley said.
“It’s the people who fix (the food), they care about the surrounding area,” Prophitt said.
“The employees care a lot. They’re good to you, you’re coming back again,” Espinoza said.
I asked the owner about the staff. She says they knew about the fire immediately.
“They were here at four o’clock this morning, looking at it all go down in flames,” Pinedo said. “I think a majority of them are heartbroken honestly.”
Right now, a cause for the fire is still under investigation, according to the Crane Volunteer Fire Department.