KATY, Texas - A popular Katy restaurant went up in flames overnight, nine months to the day it opened.
The El Tiempo Cantina on Kingsland Boulevard caught fire late Wednesday night.
“When I got here, the entire building was engulfed in flames," said restaurant executive Andy Picos. "I was able to see it all the way from I-10."
Several fire departments responded to help put out the 2-alarm blaze. About 50 to 60 firefighters were on the scene. Many remained there through the day Thursday to battle hot spots.
The restaurant was closed and no one was inside at the time.
The owners are thankful no one was hurt. But Picos fought back tears outside the burned out building.
“I’ve built every single El Tiempo," Picos said. "We had poured our hearts into this location and, um, it’s just hard to see what happened."
The news also saddened regular customers.
“It’s just so sad to see that it burned down and here at Thanksgiving – I feel bad for the employees and for the owners," said Dana Plughaupt. "So, just wish them well.”
About 75 employees worked at the restaurant. Many have worked for the company for decades and Picos said they're like family.
"They were all here last night, hugging each other, some of them in tears as -- you can imagine," Picos said.
The restaurant looks to be a total loss.
Picos said preliminary information suggests the fire started in the kitchen after closing Wednesday night. The Harris County fire marshal is investigating the cause.
Pico says El Tiempo plans to take care of employees now without a place to work during the holidays, as the company considers rebuilding.