Broadway Diner hoping to reopen Thursday after grease fire

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COLUMBIA - Wednesday marks five months since Broadway Diner began serving children free food, but they will not be open to customers for at least a day.

Early Wednesday morning, there was a grease fire in the diner’s kitchen. Firefighters worked for about an hour to put it out.

Dave Johnson, the owner of Broadway Diner, said he when he saw the flames his first thought was about feeding the children.

"That's the first thing on my mind every morning, is not so much what business is gonna be like, but how can I inspire and feed kids today," he said.

Johnson said the fire department used a extinguisher to put of the flames, which started near the grill area. Despite the emergency, there were no damages or injuries reported.

He said he hopes to have the kitchen cleaned, inspected and ready to reopen on Thursday.

But this is not the first challenge Johnson has faced this week. On Sunday, the owner found vandalism at his restaurant, including plants knocked off their platforms.

With his kitchen temporarily out of service, Johnson said he thought he would not be able to feed the children on Wednesday, but then the fire department stepped in. 

"Even without asking me first, [Fire Chief Andy Woody] offered their services to cook meals for us to hand out to the kids," Johnson said.

Fire District Station #1 grilled hamburgers and brought them to Broadway Diner for the children to come and get.

Chief Woody said the fire department was simply filling in a gap for Johnson and the work he is doing for children.

"It's up to all of us to ensure that that's the culture that we've got here, that we're all doing our part to take care of everybody," Woody said. "The way you make a big place small is through these kind of acts. I think it's important that we all are there for each other."