STOKES COUNTY, N.C. -- A grease fire Thursday evening destroyed a popular cafe north of King, Stokes County fire officials said.
The fire started sometime after 6:30 p.m. at "Country Cafaye" at 5687 Highway 66. A woman in the kitchen was able to escape without injury. No one else was inside.
The fire started in the kitchen's grease fryer and caused $150,000 in damage, said Stokes County Fire Marshal Frankie Burcham.
The Country Cafaye has been open since 1971. Burcham said the building is a total loss.
Owner Rodney Booth said he has an insurance policy on the restaurant and he plans to rebuild. He said he's not sure yet how long it will take him to rebuild.
Richard Mears, a friend of Booth's, was watching over the cafe this morning and said he'd seen people show up for breakfast and drive away crying.
"They come and they see their friends every morning and they have their breakfast. They've been doing it for so many years that it's just part of their life," Mears said.
One man even tried to get some breakfast, despite the obvious evidence that Country Cafaye is out of commission for a while.
"He was one of the ones with a tear rolling down his cheek. He said, 'Where am I supposed to go to get breakfast? I guess I'll go to Bojangles. On second thought, can you just sweep up and get me a cup of coffee? I could really use some coffee right now," Mears recounted.