After being closed for about three years because of a lack of business, Cancun Mexican Restaurant at 5309 Highway 153 was being remodeled to reopen soon, restaurant owner Martin Reyes said.
But that all changed Monday as Reyes watched the Chattanooga Fire Department extinguish a fire at the restaurant.
"I'm angry. It looks like I lost everything," Reyes said at the scene. "There's no way to reopen it now. This is nothing now."
The fire department responded to the fire about 11 a.m., and crews found heavy black smoke already billowing from the building when they arrived, spokeswoman Terri Whiteside said.
Although no injuries were reported, Hamilton County EMS was on the scene.
Firefighters took until a little after noon to extinguish the flames, Whiteside said. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, though there are unconfirmed statements of a possible homeless person living at the location, she said.
A brief search of the restaurant was conducted before crews were evacuated because of a partial roof collapse on the restaurant's north side, Whiteside said.
Southbound traffic on Highway 153 was reduced one lane while crews were on the scene.