A popular restaurant in a popular tourist town is no more after it went up in flames this weekend, sending customers and workers scrambling for safety.
Off Mechem Drive sits the skeleton of what used to be a well-known attraction in Ruidoso, Can’t Stop Smokin’ Bar-B-Que.
“I was like what is going on? I saw the smoke and everything, so I jumped on top of the roof and I just saw the whole place in flames,” said Rosendo Montez, Can’t Stop Smokin’ BBQ employee.
Just minutes before flames began shooting out of the windows, customers and employees started running to safety.
“There were customers all out in the lobby and in the dining area, kids, everybody,” Montez said. “And then they yelled ‘Fire!’ and they tried to get everybody out as fast as possible.”
Investigators are still trying to figure out what started the blaze. It took about 50 firefighters to put it out.
“The fact that it was a wood structure, when you have a fire occur, that’s certainly going to play a factor in it,” said Kerry Gladden, Village of Ruidoso spokesperson.
“I could see when like, all the windows breaking, everything it was really crazy,” said Israel Guerra of Ruidoso.
Heartbroken by the news, fans of the restaurant are passing by to get a final look, but the owners aren’t giving up. They are simply viewing this as a setback.
“Can’t stop won’t stop, no way,” said Jhett Schiavone, the owner’s son.
“It’s not going to be the end at all,” Schiavone said. “It just means new opportunities and new ways to serve the community. Besides, now the name has a little more of a story to it.”
No one was hurt in the fire. The owner originally started the business with a fruit stand and a smoker before opening up the barbecue joint.