An oven fire forced a popular Solana Beach restaurant to shut down on Wednesday just before a busy Thanksgiving Day with many reservations booked. Smoke was spotted coming from the roof of Pamplemousse Grille on Via de la Vale around 11 a.m.
The building was evacuated as crews knocked down the flames and cut a hole in the roof for ventilation. The damage was mostly contained to the kitchen area, according to Solana Beach Fire Department officials. No injuries were reported.
"The word that comes to mind is family. The people that work there, that come there know each other. It is a warm place," said Tim Sullivan, a loyal customer.
The restaurant must stay closed until the health department gives them the all-clear to re-open, which could take until next week.
"We are going to try and do everything in our power to do it as quickly as possible," said Steve Ernst, general manager and Sommelier.
The Pamplemousse staff found a solution to serving Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday with some help from a nearby venue.
The Del Mar Racetrack will open its sixth floor above the track for the meal to be served. Hostesses from the restaurant were working Wednesday to contact everyone with reservations.
"This was my first Thanksgiving in the restaurant. I usually do caterings, but i was excited. But you know what? We will make the best of it tomorrow. We had to get things done for tomorrow, and let people each - somehow, anyway," said Jon Wong, Pamplemousse Grille server.
Off camera, Pamplemousse Grille owner, Jeffrey Strauss, who is known for his charity, said it was heartbreaking.
"This is is his baby and he is trying to process it. We are all trying to process it. We are a tight family here at Pamplemousse, so it is neat to see the outpouring from the community as well," said Ernst.
The restaurant reported that it was expecting to serve 300 for Thanksgiving.