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Heartbreak: Cleburne Cafeteria destroyed by fire

April 26, 2016 By:Charlotte Aguilar

Local News

View inside the front door of Cleburne Cafeteria on the morning of April 26.

Arson investigators are on the scene Tuesday morning to determine what caused an overnight fire that destroyed the iconic Cleburne Cafeteria at 3606 Bissonnet St.

Owner George Mickelis — whose father founded the restaurant 75 years ago — called in the fire after being notified by the alarm company and witnessing smoke flowing into the restaurant on closed circuit cameras he monitored from his nearby home. He went to the scene and watched as firefighters battled for more than three hours to save the eatery.

The crews were ordered out when it became evident the roof was going to collapse.

Mickelis told ABC-13 that he was grieving the loss of the paintings of Greece done by his late father, Nick, that covered the walls.

Miraculously, those paintings had survived a 1990 fire that destroyed Cleburne. Mickelis rebuilt after that blaze. He said his 93-year-old mother, Pat, and he still work together at the restaurant.

Cleburne is known for its classic cafeteria fare made with fresh ingredients — and touches of the family’s Greek heritage.

This story was compiled partly from accounts by ABC-13.com and KHOU.com.

Firefighters battled flames and smoke overnight for three hours but couldn't save the 75-year-old Cleburne Cafeteria on Bissonnet (ABC-13 photo)

Firefighters battled flames and smoke overnight for three hours but couldn’t save the 75-year-old Cleburne Cafeteria on Bissonnet (ABC-13 photo)

A few of the historical photos of the 75-year-old restaurant were rescued. (ABC-13 photo)

A few of the historical photos of the 75-year-old restaurant were rescued. (ABC-13 photo)

This was one of the paintings of Greece done by Cleburne founder Nick Mickelis that was apparently lost in the fire. (File photo)

This was one of the paintings of Greece done by Cleburne founder Nick Mickelis that was apparently lost in the fire. (File photo)

 

Cleburne Cafeteria, at its original downtown location, was celebrating its 75th year in business. (File photo)

Cleburne Cafeteria, at its original downtown location, was celebrating its 75th year in business. (File photo)

View inside the front door of Cleburne Cafeteria on the morning of April 26.

View inside the front door of Cleburne Cafeteria on the morning of April 26.

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