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Pryor Mourns Loss Of Restaurant

A popular restaurant that burned in Pryor is a total loss. The fire started in a broiler - and quickly spread to tar on the roof, where it was impossible to stop.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says a lot of people hope to see it rebuilt.

There was a steady flow of traffic by the ruins of the Thomas Restaurant. Normally a big lunch crowd would be in the restaurant, but now customers can only shake their heads and wonder if they can get along with it. Sandy Sagud: "well no it's a landmark, it's been here so long."

As much as anything, people say they're heartsick for the owner, Darrell Anderson, a quiet beloved figure in Pryor well known for his charity.

His employees, many of them with 20 years or more of service, hope he can reopen. Breakfast cook Trisha Walker: "This is my home, this is my home away from home." If there's anything to be grateful for after a fire like this, the employees says it's that they had just closed before the fire and only a few people were in the building, for the town, it's that a place like this and a man like this were part of their lives for so long.

The employees picked through the wreckage, which continued to flare up, and salvaged a few things to help remember. Trisha Walker: "A coffee cup, some of the glasses survived, and that's amazing." Debbie Welch was working the grill, Betty Watkins serving, when the fire started. Debbie Welch: "From the smoke, baking soda, and fire extenquishers, it was all coming down and I just came out here and looked in disbelief."

There are plenty of other places to eat in town to eat of course, but folks in Pryor believe there's no other place like the Thomas Restaurant.

The fire was so intense Thursday, there was hardly anything salvaged. It burned so quickly, the people who escaped it didn't have time to grab anything. But the fire department was able to save the distinctive sign at the restaurant. A lot of people hope to see that sign again, out in front of a new Thomas restaurant.
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