Fire heavily damages barbecue eatery

No one was injured when an early morning fire ripped through a popular Bartlett barbecue restaurant.

Insulation hangs from the ceiling at Moma's BBQ restaurant after a fire heavily damaged it early Wednesday morning.

Insulation hangs from the ceiling at Moma's BBQ restaurant after a fire heavily damaged it early Wednesday morning.

The fire at Moma’s BBQ, 6301 Stage Road, started just after 4 a.m. this morning when an employee was attempting to get the business opened for the day, said co-owner Danny Banton.

“The girl came in and turned on the deep fryer, and then turned around a few minutes later. The whole thing was on fire,” said Banton, who owns the business with Kenny Geiger.

Several concerned friends and customers were stopping by the business by mid-morning Wednesday. They were offering their support and making sure that the business owners, who have been operating it for 31 years, were OK.

“People were coming by asking if we had a bank fund set up where they could donate,” said Banton. “But I said, we have insurance, we should be OK.

“We’ve got a lot of friends,” said Banton, who was greeting people in the parking lot outside the burned restaurant. “They come by and see us, and 80 percent of them we know by first name.”

Banton said that with the help of insurance, he is certain the two employees who work for them will continue to receive a paycheck while the business owners rebuild.

A laundromat also in the building, which Banton and Geiger own, also received some damage as firefighters doused the blaze. About one-third of that damage is from water, Banton said.

The co-owner said he has called a fire recovery business in to assess the damage, but believes it will be three to four months before they can reopen.

“But we’ll be back,” he said.