Two-Alarm Fire Breaks Out At Annie's Cafe In Lake Elsinore

"We put our life, blood, sweat and tears into this place to make it a nice place for our customers to come," said Annie's owner Jan Vyse.

It was a sad night for patrons of Annie’s Café in Lake Elsinore as firefighters battled a two-alarm fire at the popular restaurant Saturday.

The fire broke out around 10:30 p.m. Saturday at the famed restaurant located at 32251 Mission Trail and was doused 30 minutes later, reported Cal Fire/Riverside County spokeswoman Jody Hagemann.

The blaze was contained to the restaurant's kitchen and exterior, Hagemann said. The restaurant was closed when the fire broke out and no injuries were reported.

The restaurant opened under current owners Kevin and Jan Vyse in 2000 and is always packed with customers for breakfast and lunch. Patrons come for the family style food offered at low prices, and to see the staff that is known for its friendly service and song-and-dance routines (click here to see Annie's staff in action).

Jan said she and Kevin moved to Lake Elsinore from England to buy the restaurant.

"We put our life, blood, sweat and tears into this place to make it a nice place for our customers to come," she said. (Watch attached video to see and hear Jan's emotional statement.)

Vyse worried about her customers, some of which were gathered at the scene Saturday.

"They've all become like family," she said. "We care about them and they care about us. Nobody's a stranger."

Local resident Randy Dearman, 55, said he eats at Annie's every other day. He heard about the fire from one of his employees and hurried to the restaurant Saturday night.

"I pulled in and saw Jan and Kevin," he said. "It's a bummer -- it's tragic. [Annie's] is hometown atmosphere and an awesome place to eat."

In 2012, Patch readers voted Annie's the "Best Breakfast Spot in Town."

Vyse said she intends to reopen as soon as possible. She did a walk-through after the fire was contained and said there is debris everywhere and damage, but sent this message to her customers: "Bear with us guys, we'll get you food as soon as possible."

Forty-two firefighters and 10 engines tackled the blaze, and overhead personnel were called in. Two ladder trucks were also brought in -- one from Temecula and one from Menifee.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department was also on scene.

The fire forced the closure of southbound Mission Trail, just south of Campbell.

Hagemann reported that fire officials will be on scene until approximately 1 a.m. Sunday.

The center where Annie's is located has been under construction, and Vyse expressed concern at how slowly the renovation was moving. She said the work began Jan. 28 and was slated to finish Feb. 28, but she worried the construction was no where near complete.

It's not immediately clear how the fire will impact the construction.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. The estimated cost of losses is unknown at press time. --Daniel Lane contributed to this report.

Teresa February 17, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Sitting on our patio last night we heard the sirens and watched the fire trucks heading that direction from Canyon Lake, never would we have thought that they would be going to Annie's. Our hearts and prayers are with you Jan and Kevin. Eddie and Teresa
Jason Z February 17, 2013 at 04:37 PM
We are very saddened of this news and the video of Jan talking broke our hearts! This is definetly THE BEST place for excellent food and family fun. We loved bringing friends in for their first Annie's experience. Hugs and prayers go out to you Jan & Kevin, we know you'll overcome this tragedy. We all look forward to the Grand Opening of the new Annie's.
Christi February 17, 2013 at 04:40 PM
I just watched the video of Jan. she never was without a smile when she was near Annie's, to see her crying is unbearable. I want to run over there and start to help with the cleanup, but I know I can't, I just want to help anyway I can.
rodger cambell February 17, 2013 at 04:43 PM
Will the waitress be ok while they rebuild?
Andria February 17, 2013 at 05:08 PM
Jan and Kevin- I'm so sorry for your loss here! What a difficult thing to go through. And yes, you did put your all into making your restaurant thevery best for your customers. I'll be praying for you both, and for a speedy process in all that will go into getting everything rebuilt. Andria- Journey Martial Arts, Lake Elsinore
Chuck Brood February 17, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Jan, Kevin & Kersty. I know this is your life! You have done a wonderful job. I am sorry for your loss. I know you all and I know Annies will be back bigger and better then ever! You are all loved by many people! Your place is the BEST in California! If there is anything we can help with just let us know! Chuck & Eric
Popachuby Cfl February 17, 2013 at 05:55 PM
What in the world are you talking about? What does you comment have to do with some fire damage at the other end of the lake?
Gregg February 17, 2013 at 06:21 PM
My Condolences to Kevin & Jan, We had just finished tinting the new windows there, to make it more comfortable for their customers a week ago. After the last customers had left, both Kevin & Jan were still working on details to dial the place in....Kevin had just painted the back hallway and was hanging new photos...They both are hard working people and they will be back in no time, based on what I have observed as a customer and working on their place.
tom February 17, 2013 at 07:25 PM
There Friday. Heart broken, they are the definition of community. If the phone booth needs restoring come by book store ask for me,will fix n/c.
Sjeff February 17, 2013 at 08:16 PM
So sad. Jan and Kevin made this restaurant so welcoming, they served the absolute best food and always entertained their customers. I couldn't believe my eyes when I just read this, I ran outside ro my husband with chills telling him what happened. This was our spot since high school over 10 years ago. We love it, our kids love it. Hoping and praying they can get Annies up and going again. Much love to Jan and Kevin, so sorry this has happened.
Andrea Jaouhari February 17, 2013 at 08:38 PM
Annie's has been a favorite for our family for 3 generations in fact and we are so sad for your loss. God has bigger plans for you and your family. You have so many people who love and support you. We will all be at your grand re- opening. Can't wait to see that smile on your face again and your dance. Hang in there. It's going to be better than you could ever expect! Much support from your temecula patrons.
Tim Bedley February 17, 2013 at 09:42 PM
I think you are confused, Reverend Smith, as to the location of Annie's restaurant.
Tony Ruiz February 17, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Do you mean hurt doing the dancing? It gets pretty wild in there sometimes.
Tony Ruiz February 17, 2013 at 10:13 PM
Don't ever let this happen again!
Tony Ruiz February 17, 2013 at 10:27 PM
Knock it off, Jan and don't such a crybaby. You've got us all by the ..... because of the food, the people especially you, Kevin and Kirsten and everybody else there. We still need that recipe for the gravy and hereby offer you 50 bucks cash on the barrelhead for it. Annie's isn't just a bunch of wood, glass, tables, fans and a British phone booth. It's an institution! And there's nothing that can hold you guys back; you'll re-open better than ever, only with even more heart to share this time. There's a time for everything, even Jim's place, but it won't be back if it ever was a place. Now Annie's is a whole different story. Not just a place but an institution, a part of that whole area way past Elsinore. Our waitress here at Gabby's used to be there; I've asked her to try to find a way to get that gravy recipe out the door without being noticed. Maybe it'll be easier now before you close it all up again. God bless you all, sweetheart. And don't forget to thank Gary for that printer.
julian February 17, 2013 at 11:49 PM
Sad to hear this news. The place is a community treasure which says a lot about owners and the team of waitresses and cooks and bus boys they've assembled. They run a well oiled machine that feels like it's been around forever. I am glad to hear they are going to re-open; and I'm going to go out of my way the next time I'm out there to eat at Annie's (which I usually do anyway because my mom loves the place too).
I am no one February 18, 2013 at 01:43 AM
They should be able to collect unemployment but it is nothing compared to their regular earnings. Everyone employed there will be greatly hurt financially unfortunately. So Sad. Jan, you just let us know when we can come help clean up, your community will pitch in!
cynthia sanchez February 18, 2013 at 01:56 AM
I agree with you popachuby. Don't pay any attention to the reverend. He makes lame!*** comments not relating to the story. The last time I commented on his comment I got kicked out!! Lmao whateva
Christi February 18, 2013 at 01:57 AM
They hope to reopen Tues. damage was mainly in the employees area.
Reverend Smith February 18, 2013 at 02:04 AM
I had Annie's confused with that line of struggling restaurants across from the campground and marinas. The get sold and change name so often I don't even know what they're called anymore. I just recall Lakes cafe had the best breakfasts around. But that was over ten years ago. It is sad though that the campground is separated from stores and restaurants that could benefit from the business, but Hwy 74 (blood alley) separates the two.
Rat Fink February 18, 2013 at 02:14 AM
Oh please don’t let this get you down. Annie’s is very important to us Elsinorians! I came to Lake Elsinore 3 years ago to visit a friend. He took us to Annie’s for breakfast. We wore the stupid hats and danced and had the best breakfast ever. Annie’s was one of the deciding factors to buy a house here that day. A few months later I met the woman I have waited all my life for and brought her to Annie’s for our first meal together. Now three years later we come here often and bring her beautiful daughters and friends. Practically those who are “virgins”. Oh yes, many more will wear the hat an do the dance! Get well soon! The grand re-opening will be Lake Elsinore History!
Carl Petersen III February 18, 2013 at 05:08 AM
We had our initiation just a few weeks ago and were looking forward to a return trip. Best of luck in getting reopened as quickly as possible.
Caroline G. Ross February 18, 2013 at 09:23 AM
Can't wait for Annie's to reopen. I'll be there with bells on. Not only great breakfasts and great, friendly service, but really good coffee, too.
Jim G. February 18, 2013 at 01:42 PM
Annies is the best. Hope to see you open soon. Everyone there is awesome, they make you feel at home, and oh yeah the food is really good also.
Lakelife February 18, 2013 at 04:04 PM
OMG! to think the residents think Annie's is the best food in town, that's comical. If you like artery clogging crap to eat and hope you can run around the lake after all that greasy food, sure its the best place in town to become overweight. I bought a home here 6 yrs ago and went to the cafe for the famous breakfast, which I am a vegetarian, so I ordered a waffle and that was not exciting at all. In fact the waitress wasn't nice when I asked to have my waffle extra crispy, it was like an added chore. Yes the place was packed maybe that's why but still I was with some local bittys who go there all the time...never again. Good food is not here in Lake Elsinore, a shame since this city is flourishing with healthy, active lifestyle people who have to go to Murrieta or Temecula for healthy food!!!! No wonder alot of people are pissy here in LE. I'm from Orange ,old town with a wide variety of eateries.
mike smith February 18, 2013 at 04:46 PM
We love the Servers , owners, everyone. Glad to hear that is wasn't a total loss. See you all again soon. From your favorite "Round head"
Rat Fink February 18, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Lakelife - Then go back there. leave and take your 'bouche morveuse" with you. You are a mean hateful wannbe yuppie.
Brad February 19, 2013 at 08:10 AM
I drove by and it looked like they were open for business. There was an employee standing outside waving people in.
ROBERT BLACKMEN February 19, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Lakelife I agree the food is terrible and it does suck. you have better luck at dennys the this retirement home..
Susan Cramer February 21, 2013 at 12:57 AM
Don't know if Annies reopened after the fire yet. My neighbor took me there my first time and told me it was the neighborhood favorite. I worked on the other side of the Lake though and enjoyed The Breakfast Club that became Big Jim's Grill that became The Landing Zone Grill and sold to new owners. It is there on Corydon and Grand. I also like Hunny;s on Riverside Drive and have had great service and food there. http://www.yelp.com/biz/hunnys-restaurant-lake-elsinore Gad;s speed reopining Annies Cafe. Is Cocos open in the interim? OMG ~ what will all the morning work people going to do without Annie's Cafe?


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