Officials said a fire that destroyed the Landmark Diner in Briarcliff Manor started in the ceiling while diners were inside the restaurant.
The fire broke out around 9:45 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 22, while patrons were dining in the iconic restaurant located at at 265 Highland Ave., in Briarcliff Manor, said the Briarcliff Manor Fire Department.
Heavy flames roared through the restaurant, sending three firefighters to the hospital for heat exhaustion, a department official said.
All diners and staff were able to escape without any injuries, the department said.
And while firefighters continued putting out hot spots at the scene, the community has already begun to rally around the owner and employees of the restaurant.
Matthew Gullotta, who runs the Gullotta House in Briarcliff Manor, said the restaurant and its owner, Ari Thanos, have always helped with his charities and have been very generous.
In return, Gullotta said he is starting a fundraiser on his site www.gullottahouse.org , for the employees who are now out of a job and that 100 percent of the donations will go directly to them.
“Aristidis Thanos and his staff have very generously given to all of us for years,” Gullotta said on his Facebook page . ‘It’s time for us to band together and help this family in need!”
In fact, the restaurant was supposed to provide food for the Gullotta House’s Family Fun & Music Festival on Saturday, Aug. 24, in Nelson Park. Instead, there will be fundraisers and raffles to help the diner employees.
The diner’s owner reportedly plans to rebuild the restaurant at the same site.
Briarcliff Manor Police said Route 9 in the area of the diner continues to be closed. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.