Fire broke out early Saturday morning at the popular Countryside Restaurant at the intersection of Routes 100 and 29, just south of Emmaus.
Several fire departments including Upper Milford, Vera Cruz and Emmaus were quickly called to the scene after hunters noticed the flames at 3a.m. and made the 911 call.
Bill Kao, owner of the restaurant in Upper Milford, said he was notified by 3:15a.m. and rushed to the scene.
“We don’t know where the fire started yet. The Upper Milford fire department is investigating,” Kao said.
According to Kao, flames started coming through the original entrance in the back by the kitchen and back storage area. Most of the fire was concentrated around the location of the walk-in refrigerator. Everyone is “clueless” how this started, but they’re guessing it was a result of faulty wiring.
“It took out the whole entire back,” Kao added.
Smoke damage spread throughout the building, including the dining area. The extent of the damage is uncertain at this time as fire officials were restricting anyone from entering the building.
According to responders, fire damage is extensive. "They had a bad fire there. It was a big mess," said George DeVault, assistant fire chief for Citizens Fire Company of Upper Milford. "The walls are still up and the roof was intact, but basically the inside was destroyed."
A group of several Countryside employees was called in to answer questions.
Kao said there were plans to relocate the big equipment down to the Emmaus location, "," today. Those plans have been temporarily postponed.
“We’ll still have all the stuff and are planning to open June 1 depending on what happens at the Countryside location,” Kao said.
Having added several new employees to his staff, Kao said he plans to keep the new people and use everyone at the Emmaus location, only on shorter shifts, so everyone can keep their jobs.
The owner of the building said he has not had previous fire damage.