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Fire takes out longtime Cedar Rapids breakfast joint


A fire caused extensive damage to Riley’s Cafe on First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids, a cornerstone of the city’s breakfast scene that has been serving up pancakes, eggs and other diner classics for over four decades.

According to a post on the cafe’s Facebook page, the fire was a result of equipment failure.

“Generations of Cedarapidians have grown up having breakfast at this restaurant. It has been a downtown landmark. We hope we can come back from this terrible loss just for our local downtown district and our loyal staff. It will be a long haul. We thank you for the years of support,” the post said.

Riley’s fans responded to the post and took to Twitter to comment about their experiences at the restaurant and offer encouragement.

A tweet from the Cedar Rapids Fire Department said a fire investigator working at the scene determined the fire originated in or near a ventilation fan in the ceiling over a dishwashing area.

The three-alarm fire, reported at 3:35 p.m. Tuesday, destroyed a large portion of the roof of the cafe, according to a press release. Two businesses on either side of the cafe, Citywide Cleaners and Moose McDuffy’s, did not have fire damage, though the fire department reported Moose McDuffy’s had significant smoke damage.

Thirty Cedar Rapids firefighters were at the scene of the fire as well as a three-person crew from the Hiawatha Fire Department. One Cedar Rapids firefighter was treated for a heat-related illness at St. Luke’s Hospital following the call.

The fire was under control by 4:50 p.m., but impacted traffic on First Avenue between 7th and 10th Streets until around 6:00 p.m.

Riley’s has three other locations in Cedar Rapids. The First Avenue location made the news in 2012 when President Barack Obama stopped in for breakfast.

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