Less than a week after fire damaged part of Annie’s Café in Lake Elsinore, the city’s popular eatery is back in business. Beginning Thursday morning, it's breakfast and lunch as usual as Annie's reopens for patrons.
The community and Annie's staff were the force behind the quick reopen, said Annie’s owner Kevin Vyse, as he worked this week to put the restaurant he owns with his wife, Jan, back together following the fire that broke out late Saturday night.
“The waitresses, the busboys, the cooks – they’ve all been here. They’ve all put in extra hours and worked very hard. We wouldn’t have been able to do it without their help," Vyse said. "Tremendous, tremendous effort from the staff."
The cause of the blaze was electrical, Vyse continued. The center where Annie’s is located at 32251 Mission Trail has been undergoing renovation by KPRS Construction.
“It was caused as a result of our neon sign being removed and the power not being disconnected," Vyse said. A nail was shot through through the conduit for the sign and "later on in the evening, when our timer went on to turn our neon sign on, the conduit just blew and that was it,” he added.
“They were very, very fortunate. Had that [power] been on, whoever tipped the neon sign probably wouldn’t be here today,” he explained.
The fire damaged the restaurant’s roof, but considering the spectacular flames the building escaped serious destruction.
“The fire department did a fantastic job containing that fire,” Vyse said.
The blaze was held to a staff corner area, where all the restaurant’s cleaning equipment is stored, and damage inside the Annie’s seating area was minimal, he added.
According to Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department spokewoman Jody Hagemann, the blaze was contained to a small area and an exterior wall.
“Everybody’s worked very hard to get the place straight and tidy,” Vyse said of getting the restaurant to the point of receiving a green light from the health department to reopen.
During and through the process of picking up the pieces, Vyse said he and his wife Jan (otherwise known as Annie) have had an outpouring of support.
“The public has been outstanding. I know that Annie, on a few occasions, [it] brought tears to her eyes because of all the support,” he said.
There have been hundreds of well wishers on the Annie’s Facebook site, cards from children have been dropped off at the restaurant, and Lake Elsinore Mayor Bob Magee checked in following the fire, Vyse said.
“My bottom line is we’re fortunate the damage wasn’t worse than it is. I really would like to thank the fire department for doing a first-class job,” Vyse said. “I take my hat off to them.”