NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A popular New Orleans eatery is temporarily closed after being damaged in a fire early Monday morning.

Just after 3 a.m., the New Orleans Fire Department was called to Willie Mae’s Scotch House on St. Ann Street in the Treme neighborhood. Responding crews saw smoke and flames coming from the back of the one-story, wood-framed building.

The NOFD says the fire started from an electrical issue and quickly spread into the restaurant’s attic space. The electricity was cut from the building and allowed firefighters to gain control of the fire.

Just more than an hour later, the fire was under control around 4:15 a.m. Detectives say no one was injured in the blaze and that the fire was contained only to the restaurant.

“Well, anytime you look at restaurants, top ten [lists] or whatever in New Orleans, you always see Willie Mae’s. It’s famous,” tourist Greta Kane, who was visiting from Virginia, said.

Kane and her husband were among the several people who were hoping to get a taste of Willie Mae’s renowned fried chicken during lunchtime Monday.

“Well, we walked all the way here from Harrah’s, a good walk for us oldies, and we’d been wanting to come here for a long time, and it’s not going to happen,” Kane said.

Once they arrived, visitors saw crews boarding up the restaurant’s windows and learned about the fire.

“I can’t use the words I did say, but yeah, I was kind of surprised,” Michael Grinnan, who traveled from Virginia, said. “I was kind of bummed.”

Some made the trek all the way from the Midwest just to eat at Willie Mae’s.

“[We] traveled from Michigan to go to Willie Mae’s because we’ve been here before, and it’s spectacular food,” Ronald Cooley, who traveled from Michigan, said. “We brought [our friends] for the first time. Oh, what a shame and the atmosphere is so wonderful, and the food is spectacular, needless to say.”

Customers say they will wait to enjoy Willie Mae’s.

“Hopefully, they’ll reopen, and we can come again,” Kane said. Grinnan added, “I’ll come back, probably, next time that I’m in town. They’re not going to rebuild in the next couple of days.”

The fire remains under investigation by the NOFD.

GoFundMe for Willie Mae’s

Organizers have launched an effort to raise $100,000 for Willie Mae’s after Monday’s fire. We’re told 100% of the money will help support restaurant staff and aid in repair costs not covered by insurance. To donate, click here.

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