Since 1952, it's been a favorite Pryor landmark, but it only took a few minutes for the Thomas Restaurant to go up in flames.
News on 6 reporter Steve Berg was there with a lot of heart-broken folks in Pryor.
The fire could be seen for miles away, the restaurant is near and dear for many Pryor residents. Not the least of whom of course is the owner who was too upset to talk. Pryor Mayor Jimmy Tramel: "He's really taking it hard, and you would too. This is your life, it's been his life, ever since he was a boy. Y'know he started washing dishes in the back, he's been here all his life."
Tramel says the owner, Darrel Anderson is as much an institution as the restaurant, always helping with the community, giving away meals to anyone who asked. In fact, when the fire broke out, he says the staff was busy cooking for a high school sports banquet.
Fire officials say it looks like this all started with a grease fire in the kitchen. It's big in more than one sense. Pryor Fire chief Sherman Weaver: "It is a major fire, and being a landmark like it is. Y'know, restaurant has been there a lot of years, it's really part of the community."
Unidentified woman: "I feel awful. It's terrible, because we always come over and get our steak dinners on Thursday night and take them home, it's terrible." Lots of people we talk to are hoping he can build again.
The mayor says there might be something they can do about that. "Y'know, everything that's he's given to the community, now let's give back to him, let's help him. He won't ask for help, but y'know let's help him. Let's all get together and raise this building back up so we can have a restaurant."
US Highway 69 through Pryor was closed for several hours because of the fire.