A decades-old family diner goes up in flames early Wednesday morning in Shreveport. 

Fire officials said RJ’s Restaurant caught fire around 4:30 a.m. Its owner said they had to close shop to clean up.

Open for the past 40 years, RJ’s Restaurant on Mansfield Road had a sign out Wednesday morning letting customers know they were closed after a fire. 

“We lost our morning and lunch business. We’re 24 hours a day so their were employees here when this happened and it was caught quite quickly. That’s why it did minimal damage I’m sure,” said Butch Daspit, owner of RJ’s Restaurant.

Smoke and flames billowed out of the roof as dozens of Shreveport fire fighters rushed to put it out. Two employees were inside at the time and made it out safely as fire crews got it under control in 15 minutes. Daspit said they believe the airconditioner caught fire above the kitchen area.

“This one was pretty well confined to an eight-foot section of the ceiling of the kitchen. Firemen did a wonderful job. Minimal damage. It was probably a bearing or motor overheated in the air unit,” Daspit said.

Daspit said the electricity and gas was shut off so they had to close for the afternoon. He has 20 employees and the day crew had to stay home as others spent the day cleaning up. They’re working to get it ready for their regulars. 

“Our clientele is 95-percent regulars. Their here three or four times, five times a week every week. Same people and they get good service and good food,” Daspit said.

He’s been the owner since 1994, serving up homestyle cooking from breakfast to dinner.

“Some of the best pancakes in town, if not the best,” Daspit said.

He was glad no one was hurt and the fire didn’t burn up too much profit. He said they were working to have everything back and running by this afternoon.