LEXINGTON, N.C. (WGHP) — The owners of Brooker T’s Cafe in Lexington are thanking the community for support and prayers after their restaurant went up in flames Tuesday afternoon.

“We’re proud to be a part of this little city, and we will be back in it,” Tammy Cornell said. Cornell owns the cafe with her daughter, Brooke Bishop.

Busted windows, melted chairs and singed walls are the only things the pair can see inside their restaurant.

“It still doesn’t even seem real that we’re standing here going through this process right now,” Bishop said. “I was a bit of shock. It’s still a shock.”

Business owners and community members called the mother and daughter frantically Tuesday afternoon, telling them they saw smoke and flames pouring out of the entrance of their business.

When the women got to the scene, people gathered around them as they watched firefighters put out the flames.

They bought the restaurant in the spring from long-time family owners and changed the name from Cafe 35 to Brooker T’s Cafe.

“It’s…heartbreaking to know how hard we’ve worked to get here,” Bishop said.

The restaurant opened on May 6, 2022, to the public.

“It’s devastating because we did most of this remodeling. Between us and friends and family, we painted the walls. We hung the pictures, so that part is hard, but they’re things,” Cornell said.

The main thing on their minds is the 35 employees who won’t be collecting a paycheck.

“We have a lot of people that depend on this business to feed their families, and that’s a great concern for us, and that makes us want to work even harder to get back and be even better,” Cornell said.

Fire investigators were back at the scene Wednesday combing through debris. The Davidson County fire marshall has not determined the cause of the fire.

“We didn’t get broken down. We got built up for something even better,” Cornell said.