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.