Orlando Fire Department is investigating an early morning fire at popular sandwich restaurant Beefy King as a possible arson. The fire, which occurred in the early morning hours of Tues., Nov. 12, started outside the Milk District restaurant and was contained before it could spread inside, said owner Roland Smith. However, because of damage to the kitchen and interior caused while extinguishing the blaze, the restaurant is currently closed.
Smith said he received a call from OFD at about 1:30 a.m. saying that firefighters were onsite dealing with a fire in progress. As he approached the Bumby Avenue restaurant around 2 a.m., he said the building was covered in smoke. Smith describes the scene in the video below.
Tuesday morning the smell of smoke is still in the restaurant. It’s an odor that might not be out of place in a barbecue restaurant, but it clearly doesn’t fit at Beefy King, which is known for its steamed beef sandwiches and potato tots.
Smith said that a stack of plastic bread racks that the sandwich buns are delivered in was completely melted outside the back door, so investigators suspect the fire started there. The bread racks were very close to a large CO2 tank. Smith said the tank hisses for some time as the gas leaked out after its hoses melted in the fire.
A spokeswoman for the Orlando Fire Department did not immediately answer a request for comment.
Because the fire was mainly contained to the outside, Smith said that he and the family members that operate the restaurant are hoping to be back serving the public by the weekend.
This was the second fire for a restaurant in the area this year. Shin Jung, the Korean restaurant on Colonial Drive, was destroyed by fire in June; it is currently being restored.
Beefy King, which has been in operation for 51 years, was originally part of a chain of restaurants. Orlando’s is the only remaining Beefy King and is considered a local landmark by longtime residents. It won the 2018 Best Sandwich Foodster Award for Independent Restaurants.