By Baylee Pulliam
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Were it not for a sign in the parking lot, you’d never know there used to be a Captain D’s restaurant on Broadway.
The Anderson store, part of an over 500-strong chain of chicken and seafood restaurants, was reduced to a pile of charred rubble by a fire that started early Monday.
Brent Holland, Anderson Fire Department deputy chief, said two motorists called in the fire at 7:50 a.m. Firefighters arrived within minutes.
“The response time was just incredible,” said Troy Knight, who owns the Anderson franchise along with one in Muncie.
At times, it was nearly impossible to see the building through the thick clouds of smoke. Motorists stopped to take photos with their cellphones.
Firefighters had the fire under control by around 10:30 a.m., and cleared the scene just before 4 p.m. As of press time, the cause was still under investigation, said Anderson fire investigator Kevin Heflin.
It’s hard to say what part of the restaurant sustained the most damage, since “the building was a total loss,” he said.
Knight said he had a lot of memories in the now-charred eatery.
“It’s been a long, sad day,” he said. “A lot of time went into that place.”
Knight bought the Anderson restaurant in 1983 with his father, Don. He said he plans to rebuild the restaurant in the same location once he gets the insurance money.
“Fortunately, we have quite a few loyal customers,” he said. “A lot of them eat here at least once a day.”
One customer, whom he calls “Pops,” sometimes eats there twice a day.
“This whole community has been just so supportive,” Knight said. He said several customers, including the mayor stopped by or checked on him Monday,
Only one employee was in the building at the time — Dana Houston, who’d worked there about 20 years doing odd jobs like sweeping and washing dishes.
He made it out safely.
The restaurant employed between 20 and 25 people, Knight said. He said some of those would continue to be employed via insurance money, while others would be temporarily furloughed.
The fire briefly rekindled at about 6:30 p.m. Monday, but it was small and easily extinguished.
Reporter Abbey Doyle contributed to this story.