published Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Lookout Mountain's Cafe on the Corner damaged by blaze; owner plans to rebuild

  • photo
    Insurance agent Charlie Rowland, left, speaks to Ruth Oehmig, owner of Cafe on the Corner, as friend Isabel McCall stands nearby. The Lookout Mountain restaurant was badly damaged by an overnight fire.
    Photo by Dan Henry.
    enlarge photo

  • photo
    The inside of Cafe on the Corner after an overnight fire destroyed the restaurant atop Lookout Mountain.
    Photo by Dan Henry /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Fortunes turned quickly for a Lookout Mountain, Tenn., restaurant Tuesday morning.

Just hours after the USA Cycling National Championships brought a customer-filled Memorial Day, fire engulfed Cafe on the Corner, a small, locally-owned restaurant across the street from Lookout Mountain Baptist Church and next to the post office at 826 Scenic Highway.

“They just had a busy wonderful day and sold a lot of food,” Lookout Mountain Fire and Police chief Randall Bowden said, “and after a wonderful day like that, it was a tragedy at four in the morning.”

That’s when the first call about a fire at the building came in.

A gas explosion on the outside of the building spread to the roof and because of the building’s age and structuring, the flames were hard to fight, Bowden said.

Crews from East Ridge, Walker County, Ga. and Lookout Mountain, Ga., responded to assist. In total, the fire took an hour and a half to control and ruined much of the building.

But many of the kitchen appliances were not damaged and may be salvageable. Early indications from general manager Ruthie Oehmig were that she plans to rebuild the restaurant, Bowden said.

The building was built in around 1919, county records show. In its early years, it served as a town grocery store. Cafe on the Corner opened in 2009.

Contact staff writer David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress or 423-757-6731.

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