Popular Hawkins eatery Richie’s Café & Grill was destroyed by fire the morning of Sept. 11.
No injuries occurred in the blaze that broke out about 5:45 a.m., 15 minutes before the business was set to open, according to the restaurant’s owner, Ricardo Perez. He said he did not know the cause of the fire, other than it started in the kitchen. He speculated that it may have been ignited by a deep fryer.
Perez has owned that Hawkins establishment for about eight years. It was a successful business that employed about 25 people, he said as firefighters from Holly Lake continued pouring water and foam on hot spots.
“It makes me sad, because I know that’s how they bring bread to the table,” he said of the employees.
The restaurant, located on U.S. 80, was insured, and Perez said he’ll be able to absorb any financial loss. He owns two other successful restaurants, he said.
Asked if he would rebuild or establish a new Richie’s in Hawkins, Perez said it was far too early to say. “I have another restaurant in Winnsboro and one in Grand Saline, so I will be focused more there.”
The biggest loss, he said, will be the restaurant’s sentimental value to him and the community. The building had been a fixture in downtown Hawkins for many decades and had housed many diners.
Everything Thanksgiving, the restaurant would give out free dinners to anybody who wanted one, according to Perez. The business also collected donations, and the proceeds were distributed to people in need, he said.
He said he was thankful that no one was injured or killed by the fire, and he took a philosophical approach about the fire and life in general.
“I’m blessed with a lot of things,” he said. “You never know about tomorrow.”