Café owner Ruth Oehmig is already looking ahead, hours after her quaint restaurant is destroyed by fire. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com
Fire trucks and equipment surround the navigation signs on Lookout Mountain Tuesday morning. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com
The Cafe on the Corner in flames Tuesday morning. Photo by Dan Kennedy/WRCBtv.com
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN, TN (WRCB) -
UPDATE: It's been a long time since Ruth Oehmig saw customers crowded inside her restaurant. For the last year and a half her focus has been on working to make that happen.
"I was dealing with the insurance, and the rebuild and the design," Oehmig said.
Fire forced the restaurant to close in May of last year.
Oehmig lost everything inside but she was committed to rebuild.
"It's just nice to be back doing what I love doing."
Some of Oehmig's first customers were a few of the first responders who were on the scene last May, fighting to save her building.
"It was a tough fire, it was a gas fire that was really hard to get to the main source of gas," Fire & Police Chief Randy Bowden remembers.
Chief Bowden was one of many who worked to put out the flames, and more importantly, to comfort their friend.
"It was overwhelming, you know watching my business go up in flames, watching these guys fight so hard and then find me. They were all looking for me and hugging me," Oehmig said, "It's still very emotional."
Chief Bowden remembers when Oehmig pledged to rebuild the day of the fire. And now, more than 18 months later, he gets to see, and taste it, for himself.
"She knew she'd be back. She's a strong-willed lady and she made it happen," Chief Bowden said.
Oehmig also created a fundraiser to give back to the first responders who helped save her building.
She has a goal to raise $200,000 for the Lookout Mountain Volunteer Fire Department.
After her initial fundraiser, she's raised about $5,000 so far, and she says any kind of donations are welcome.
Oehmig says the volunteer department is using a lot of second-hand and outdated equipment, and they rely on donations for much of their funding.
UPDATE: A popular Lookout Mountain restaurant was destroyed by an early-morning fire Tuesday.
The Café On The Corner restaurant on Scenic Highway caught fire shortly after 4 a.m.
The Lookout Mountain Fire Chief says the cause of the fire was accidental, and caused by an electrical or gas problem, or possibly even both.
"One step at a time," said Ruth Oehmig. "Get this thing going and rebuild. That's what I want to do."
Café owner Ruth Oehmig is already looking ahead, hours after her quaint restaurant is destroyed by fire. Oehmig's older brother drover her to the still-smoking building at sunrise Tuesday where firefighters and friends in the tight-knit community greeted her with hugs.
"Everybody knows everybody up here and we support the businesses. This is just a tough blow for us right here," said Fire Chief Randall Bowden. "I don't live too far away so when I got the call, I'm visualizing when they said the Café on the corner."
Fire Chief Randall Bowden said it was a hard fire to fight. The roof collapsed and the restaurant is ruined. The fire was fueled by natural gas, requiring the fire department to contact the gas company to shut the valve controlling the gas supply.
Bowden said the restaurant is considered a total loss but the next door Lookout Mountain Post Office was unaffected.
"The building and various businesses have been here for eons," said Mayor Carol Mutter.
Mayor Carol Mutter called Oehmig's business a successful landmark. Just one day ago, Oehmig hosted a watch party for the U.S. Cycling National Championship race that went up Lookout Mountain.
"So here you are feeling really good about this community event and this restaurant and then something like this happens," said Mutter.
Meanwhile, Ruth Oehmig has some cleaning ahead but she said it's just a building and that the Lookout Mountain community is taking care of her, especially the firefighters.
"They were all crying. These are guys I see every day that are here and watching out for me from the get-go," she said. "Everyone is concerned. Everyone is concerned. And they're always that way and they take really good care of me."
Several agencies helped with the fire including Lookout Mountain Fire Dept., Rossville Fire Dept., Walker Co. Fire Dept., and Hamilton County EMS and Rescue.
EARLIER STORY: A long-time fixture on Lookout Mountain, the Cafe on the Corner was struck by fire early Tuesday morning.
Firefighters responded to the restaurant fire after 4 am on Scenic Highway.
Ladder trucks and other agencies were dispatched to quell the fire, which appears to be contained to the Cafe.
The building once served as the area's grocery store in the early 1900's. The Cafe is owned by Ruth Oehmig.
The restaurant has had several names over the years; the building housed the Mountain Fountain Restaurant and Lookout Mountain Cafe until 2008.