Devin Ayzinne stood with a group of residents Sunday as they watched smoke billow out of one of their favorite Thibodaux food spots.
“This is not good,” the Thibodaux resident said as fire crews extinguished the blaze that ripped through Alumni Grill. “We live down here and would just ride our bikes over to the drive-through. It has the best food and best alcohol. I just hope they rebuild because what they have down here is hands on the best.”
The Thibodaux Volunteer Fire Department was called after 1 p.m. to the restaurant at 1130 La. 1 when the building became engulfed in flames.
“We were dispatched to a possible fire at this location and from quite a distance away we could see heavy smoke coming from this area,” Thibodaux Fire Chief Tony Boudreaux said at the scene. “We confirmed there was a heavy fire. At least 50% of the building was on fire which spread to the attic. The building sustained heavy, heavy damage. What the fire didn’t get the smoke and water got.”
The restaurant was closed for business Sunday, but workers were doing maintenance at the building, authorities said. No injuries were reported.
Owner Minh Le watched helplessly Sunday as fire crews extinguished lingering hot spots in the restaurant he opened in 2015.
“I’m going to try to find work for the staff and figure out what we need to do to rebuild,” the 1999 Nicholls State University culinary graduate said. “We will be back. We’ve got a lot of staff that likes being here. It’s not like most other places.”
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Though fire officials said the cause of the blaze remained under investigation, Le speculated it resulted from a maintenance work mistake
“We’re doing a flooring install and they were cleaning with some flammable chemicals by the hot water heater,” he said. “It then ignited and started the fire.”
Known for its hand-formed gourmet burgers and fresh-cut fries, Alumni Grill became a popular gathering spot for Houma-Thibodaux residents.
“The toughest thing is going to be for the owner,” Boudreaux said. “It’s obviously sustained substantial damage and rebuilding will be between him and his insurance. But first and foremost it’s going to be shut down for a period of time. As a business owner, we hope he can rebuild. This is a highly frequented business in the area that produces a good quality product.”
In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Alumni Grill thanked the community for its support.
“Thank you for all for the outpouring of prayers and concerns for us and our staff,” the restaurant said. “Everyone is safe and we will rebuild. The wonderful people of our community are what make Thibodaux such a great place.”
Jennifer Burrough of Houma was driving past the restaurant this afternoon and shared video of the building engulfed in flames and smoke:
This article originally appeared on The Courier: Popular Thibodaux restaurant Alumni Grill catches fire