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Longtime Bellevue Restaurant Lil' Jon Damaged by Fire

Longtime local eatery Lil' Jon Restaurant was damaged by fire early Thursday morning and will be closed as the Sjolander family cleans up the mess.

Longtime Bellevue Restaurant Lil' Jon Damaged by Fire Longtime Bellevue Restaurant Lil' Jon Damaged by Fire Longtime Bellevue Restaurant Lil' Jon Damaged by Fire Longtime Bellevue Restaurant Lil' Jon Damaged by Fire
Longtime local eatery Lil' Jon Restaurant was damaged by fire early Thursday morning and will be closed as the Sjolander family cleans up the mess.

However, the family does plan to reopen the restaurant soon, said Parker Sjolander, whose family has owned the restaurant in the Eastgate neighborhood since his uncle founded it in 1967. 

Just the kitchen was damaged, leaving the rest of the restaurant intact.

"It’ll take a week to clean everything out and tear it all down and I don’t know how long it will take to build it all back up," he said. "It’s just the kitchen though, which is lucky. The dining room is fine the coffee shop is fine."

Sjolander said that the restaurant is usually full at lunchtime.

"It’s kind of tough to see all the cars drive by. I’m just really more worried about our customers. They come in here all the time. They expect us to be open every day. So, we’re just going to work as hard as we can to get reopen for them as soon as possible," he said.

Around noon Thursday, some found out about the fire as they pulled in to have lunch.

"It's always packed," said Keith Henry, who was on a lunch break with friends when they saw that Lil' Jon was closed.

Henry said he comes to the restaurant often, despite the distance from his workplace.

"I work at Microsoft, so it's a little ways" away, he said.

Lil' Jon Restaurant and Lounge features a menu of classic diner options, including 19 different varieties of hot and cold sandwiches. Breakfast is served all day, and they have been known to serve a tasty version of "SOS" in homage to military veterans

Fire crews from Bellevue, Mercer Island, and Eastside Fire/Rescue battled the kitchen fire, according to a press release from Bellevue Fire Department spokesman Lt. Michael Luquette.

A janitor at the restaurant at 3080 148th Ave. SE in Eastgate reported the blaze just after 1:30 a.m. Thursday morning. 

The blaze sent a visible column of black smoke from the roof of the restaurant, according to the press release. 

A language barrier made it difficult for dispatchers to decipher the exact nature of the situation so a single engine company was sent to investigate, according to the press release. Upon the engine's arrival five minutes later, firefighters saw heavy smoke and flames from the roof and called for more engines. By the time the fire was deemed under control 30 minutes later the entire kitchen was heavily damaged by, smoke, fire and the water used to extinguish it.

Forty fire fighters responded to the fire, according to the Bellevue Fire Department, including Bellevue Engine Companies 2, 4, 1, and 8; Mercer Island Engine 91; Eastside Fire & Rescue Engine 72; two ladder companies; two aid units; a paramedic unit and a paramedic supervisor. The fire scene was commanded by two Battalion commanders, one from Bellevue and one from Mercer Island.

According to Luquette, the final damage estimate will likely be approximately $475,000.

The cause is under investigation, he said. There are no injuries to report from either fire crews or civilians.

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