Rutherglen residents have expressed their sadness and disbelief after a fire gutted the iconic Silver Key Cafe in Main Street.
The blaze broke out in the 100-year-old building shortly before 6pm on Sunday after it is believed a deep fryer caught fire.
The fire was intense and it was not long before the fish and chip shop, along with a lot of memorabilia and collectables, was engulfed in flames.
Workers safely evacuated themselves and customers before firefighters from Rutherglen, Wahgunyah, Chiltern and Corowa arrived.
Residents in the area helped direct traffic to allow firefighters access to the fire.
The owners were in Melbourne for the football on Sunday and travelled back on Monday after hearing the news.
The family posted on its Facebook page on Monday, saying owner “Dawn Leahy was devastated clearly beyond words”.
“Silver Key Cafe is a lifestyle not many people would choose, but one of so many happy family memories.
“I have no words to say how heartbroken I'm feeling right now, let alone how my beautiful mother is coping.
“Please support Dawn as she has always been here for Rutherglen and pretty much the whole district.
“I'm hoping our cafe will be open again very soon.”
Victoria Hotel Proprietors Dave and Hannah Wilson live behind the cafe and evacuated after seeing smoke billowing.
“I grabbed the kids and dog and went outside, but didn’t expect to walk outside and see that,” Mrs Wilson said.
“There were large flames coming from the deep fryer.”
Mrs Wilson described the incident as a blow to the community and the family who work tirelessly.
“The community will certainly rally around them,” she said.
Rutherglen Shell Petrol Station staff member Balu Reddy was on duty across the road from the cafe when a customer pointed through the shop window at the smoke coming from the building.
“I went outside for a closer look and thought about taking a fire extinguisher over there but it was too late, there were flames leaping from the roof,” he said.
“I don’t think there were many people inside at the time, but after talking to some people it appeared there were a couple of workers and maybe a customer or two who were evacuated.”
As word got around town, people were crowding the street to get a glimpse of the drama.
Mr Reddy said the fire was a real shame as he knew how hard the owner and staff worked.
“They worked there every day and it was the only takeaway shop in town,” he said.
“It’s a sad story and everyone in Rutherglen is just devastated.
“The owner had a lot of old collectible items and paintings that are all lost now.”
Residents took to Facebook to express their sadness and disbelief, with many commenting that they hope it won’t be long before the shop can reopen and they can have their feed of the “best fish and chips around”.
It took firefighters about half an hour to control the fire.
Rutherglen Fire Brigade First Lieutenant Glenn Marquison praised the work of firefighters who contained the fire to the takeaway shop.
“We were very happy to contain the fire, there was only minor smoke damage to the businesses on either side of the shop,” he said.