Hill's Cafe reopens after accidental fire



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Posted on November 25, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 7:35 PM

AUSTIN -- Hill's Cafe in South Austin has reopened after a two-alarm fire was ruled accidental.

The fire began just after 7 a.m. Monday at the decades-old Austin eatery located at 4700 South Congress Ave. It's been in that location since 1947.

A passerby called 911 after seeing smoke coming from the cafe's roof.

At the height of the fire, about 80 firefighters were on scene. AFD says the age of the building posed a problem. Several sections of the roof were peeled away to get to flames.

The fire was under control by 8:30 a.m. The cafe was empty at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported.

AFD says due to the quick work of firefighters, the cafe's kitchen and main dining room are relatively undamaged.

"I was hoping for a little chicken fried chicken today, but I guess I'll have to get some chili somewhere else," said long time customer Jeff Marischen.

KVUE spoke with the cafe's co-owner, radio personality Bob Cole of KOKE-FM. He is pleased the fire was contained quickly. He found out about the fire on Twitter and rushed to the scene thinking the worst.

"Never got into the restaurant business thinking that it would make money, and that is the case. Being able to stay open, and frankly being able to stay open and keep that tradition alive, has been the reward, so if it's a fire that only takes half of the restaurant, that's no challenge," said Cole.

Cole says Thanksgiving is typically a big holiday for the cafe. He hopes that they will be up and running to serve a holiday meal somehow, maybe on a smaller scale than usual.

He also said the cafe has had fires, floods and even a tornado in the past, but they always managed to rebuild.

Southbound traffic was shut down on South Congress at East St. Elmo for a couple of hours due to the fire.

The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental, specifically electrical.

Damages are estimated at $75,000 structural and $25,000 in contents.

See KVUE's Tina Shively's Vine video of the scene below:

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