ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – An early morning fire destroyed the roof at Famous Anthony's restaurant on Williamson Road, leaving employees and regular customers heartbroken.
Every Saturday morning for the past 14 years, Ronnie Cundiff and his wife, Nancy, have ordered the same meal: the Number 4 and the Eye Opener. This weekend, they won't be able to eat at their favorite restaurant.
Investigators say a natural gas leak caused in the mechanical room caught on fire and exploded. Now, the roof is in ruins and the kitchen's closed for the foreseeable future.
"I got a call this morning from my sister. She said, 'I know where you ain't gonna eat Saturday morning.'" And I said, 'What do you mean?' She said, 'You ain't gonna eat at Famous Anthony's.' I said, 'Yes, I am.' She said, 'No, you're not.' She said, 'It's on fire.'"
It happened around 6:30 a.m. Friday. About 12 employees, customers and a delivery person were inside at the time, but no one was hurt.
"I could not believe it," Nancy Cundiff said. "I was in shock."
Carla Spencer ate there a few times a week.
"When my friend texted me, the first thing I thought was, 'My personal kitchen's on fire.' Because this was my kitchen. I don't cook."
Spencer's mom was a regular every Sunday night.
"It was such a tradition for so many years that we actually talked about it in her obituary," Spencer said. "Famous Anthony's always got her bacon crisp and her potato soup hot."
Spencer said the staff and customers are like family, so when her mom passed away, a waitress was heartbroken to hear the news.
"Poor girl cried. She had become that close to my mom," Spencer said.
The damage is about $250,000. Although it's unclear when the business might reopen, Spencer and the Cundiffs are holding out hope they'll get to enjoy their favorite meal at their favorite restaurant.
"We gonna miss it for awhile," Ronnie said.
"I just hope they rebuild," Nancy said.