A popular barbecue restaurant in a Lemon Grove strip mall caught fire Thursday afternoon, causing business to be shut down pending health department approval, a Heartland Fire and Rescue spokesman said.
Coop's West Texas BBQ at 2625 Lemon Grove Ave. reported a kitchen fire that started in its barbecue pits as workers prepared meat at about 12:15 p.m.
Customers were evacuated, and firefighters responded to find heavy smoke and heavy flames showing in the roof area, said Ted Kakuris, Heartland Fire and Rescue battalion chief.
Firefighters contained the blaze to the general kitchen area surrounding the oven, putting it out in about 15 minutes.
"It was a little scary," owner Brad Cooper said. "You got a fire. Fortunately, it was all contained in the pit, so the customers were able to get out. No smoke damage. Hopefully we can get back to business here in a few hours."
Kakuris said facility health investigators would survey the restaurant to determine when it could resume operation.
A phone call to Coop's West Texas BBQ shortly before 4 p.m. was not answered.
"We're hoping to be able to get them re-open for business," Kakuris said. "That's our goal with any business that has a fire: getting them back and serving as soon as they can."
Cooper called the fire a "minor setback."
"We'll get rolling again," Cooper said. "We want people to come out and enjoy some real Texas barbecue."