'We Will Rebuild': Fire Destroys LA Cafe in New Lenox
An early-morning structure fire ripped through the New Lenox restaurant. One employee made it out unharmed. Firefighters believe the blaze began as an accident in the kitchen.
No one was injured in an early-morning fire that destroyed LA Cafe Saturday in New Lenox, but the employees and owner were saddened by the loss of the popular Mexican resturant.
Employees dragged benches and other items out of the restaurant, salvaging the little they could after flames ripped through the early-morning sky.
Fire Chief Jon Mead said an employee called the New Lenox Fire Protection District at 6:12 a.m., and trucks responded within a matter of second because the station is located directly across Route 30 from LA Cafe.
The employee made it out of the restaurant safely. Mead said he believes the fire was accidental and ignited somewhere in the cooking area of the kitchen, though an exact location is unknown.
It took a little over an hour for the flames to be extinguished. There were no sprinklers in the building because of its age, Mead said. The roof and ceiling are completely damaged as well as many interior walls. Employees weren't sure if any kitchen equipment would still work.
"I feel bad for (the owner)," Mead said. He's a very nice guy and has always been supportive of the Fire Department. It's a shame."
There was some minor water damage in other businesses attached to that strip center, but they were open and operating like normal Saturday morning.
Owner Marc Angel didn't want to say much but assured the community he plans to stay.
"We will rebuild," he said. "The best way to support us right now is by going to our other locations."
LA Cafe also has locations in Mokena and Richton Park. Read more about the Mokena location at 19450 La Grange Road.
Angel said he had 15 employees at the New Lenox location, some of whom were on the scene and looked upset they would be out of work for the time being.
Fire departments from throughout the county came to assist. Route 30 was closed down between Prairie Road to the west and Cooper Road to the east for about an hour Saturday morning.