Cleburne Cafeteria — destroyed in a fire overnight — will be rebuilt, owner George Mickelis has told ABC-13 news.
This is the second time Mickelis has had to revive the family’s 75-year-old business. The eatery, located at 3606 Bissonnet St., also was a total loss in a fire in 1990, not long after founder Nick Mickelis died, leaving his son in charge.
In other hopeful news, three of the elder Mickelis’ irreplaceable oil paintings depicting memories of his native Greece have been recovered from the ruins and are in the hands of an art restorer. Many of his paintings lined the walls of the restaurant and miraculously survived the 1990 fire.
George Mickelis was at home around midnight when he was alerted to a problem at the restaurant and observed smoke on closed circuit cameras he could view from his nearby home.
Firefighters spent three hours taming the fire, which started in the rear of the restaurant and flourished in a crawl space between the roof and ceiling, according to reports.
Customers who weren’t aware of the fire began arriving for lunch and were shocked to find the cafeteria in ruins. Loyal customers also grieved the loss on social media.
“It was a Houston institution and one for my family,” wrote Mary Chatoney Schneidau. “When my dad was alive we took my parents there every Tuesday night for chicken and dumpling night; we even served this at his funeral. We are very sad and have lots of love for The Cleburne, and so many others have stories and memories just like ours.”