Since moving to Kyle about three years ago, Lisa Salazar said she drove by Papa Jack’s frequently on her way home or to pick up food for her family. She recalled always seeing a lively restaurant that locals frequented with their family and friends.
But on Thursday, her drive by the restaurant was restricted by road closures and yellow tape after Papa Jack’s Bar and Grill and Jack’s Axes, an adjoining business, were destroyed in a fire that morning.
“This is a loss for our community,” Salazar said. “And it’s a shame to see this happen to such good people too. But I have full faith that the people of Kyle and the surrounding communities will rally around them and help them get back on their feet, because they’ve done so much for us.”
The Kyle Fire Department responded to the blaze at 108 W. Center St. in downtown Kyle just before 2 a.m., a few hours after the businesses closed for the evening.
Bailey Bakouris, a Fire Department spokesperson, said the call came after a Kyle police officer saw smoke coming from the building through the alley. She said firefighters responded quickly and fought the fire from inside the building before the roof collapsed.
Crews then moved to the outside of the building to extinguish the fire. Several streets around the area were closed to traffic, forcing Kyle City Hall to shut down through at least Friday, officials said.
Bakouris said the no one was in the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was still being determined, but fire officials ruled the building a total loss.
Attempts by the American-Statesman to reach the restaurant owners were unsuccessful, but a Facebook post from the restaurant expressed sadness over the fire.
“We don’t have any details yet on what happened but will share with you as we know more,” according to the post. “We are so grateful that no one was hurt or injured in this fire and that’s most important to us right now. We will be back bigger and stronger soon. Thanks as always for your continued support.”
Owner Greg Henry shared on his personal Facebook page that he was “devastated.”
Community members are coming together to figure out how to help.
Organizers with the Buda Crawfest – slated for Feb. 26 – are working out plans that will help benefit the Kyle business. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefit nonprofit Texas Firewalkers, but founder Blake Henson said they are trying to figure out how to help Papa Jack’s as well.
Texas Firewalkers aids families displaced from residential fires and provides hot meals to communities affected by natural disasters across Texas. Henson said helping Papa Jack's fits that bill.
“We are overtaken by what happened with the fire this morning,” Henson said. “Papa Jack’s is big in the community and the Texas music scene, and we are trying to figure out how to tie this into the crawfish fest.”
Many patrons, who offered condolences on social media, said Papa Jack’s had quickly become a local favorite that customers described as eclectic and welcoming.
Jack’s Bar and Grill had six owners, including country singer Wade Bowen, and opened in the heart of downtown Kyle in 2018. The restaurant and bar offered family-friendly entertainment, such as pinball machines and Skee-Ball, and was soon expected to offer axe throwing.
It also served up a variety of dishes, including burgers and tacos, and had a full bar with local and craft beers. Dogs were welcomed on the patio, and, on most days, visitors also could watch live music shows, daily specials and special events, such as Sunday brunch and crawfish boils.
Salazar said she had marked her calendar for the crawfish boil, scheduled for Feb. 6, one of many things Papa Jack’s was known for.
“I just can’t think of any other place in Kyle that is similar to Papa Jack’s,” Salazar said. “They are just so community-minded, and I just know people will pull together to get these guys back up and running.”
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Kyle rallies around business owners after restaurant destroyed in fire