Scott Satchfield / Eyewitness News
CHALMETTE, La. -- With firefighters still on the scene Sunday morning, Rocky & Carlo's employees began the process of salvaging memorabilia from their historic restaurant.
A couple hours earlier, a two-alarm fire ripped through part of the building. Officials said there were no injuries, but the damage was extensive.
In a rear parking lot, members of the restaurant’s staff embraced. Some were visibly shaken.
"(It’s) terrible. They’re all depressed and everything. This is, you know, this is part of our life and we love Rocky & Carlo's," said employee Ramona Lucas.
Lucas has spent 41 years working at the business, which first opened its doors back in 1965.
"Everybody that works here is family. They're considered family," Lucas said.
The latest test for this close-knit group began at around 9:15 a.m. Sunday, when firefighters got the call and raced to the scene.
They fought the flames inside for about half an hour, before finally getting things under control.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, officials said. They believe it started in the kitchen area, which was heavily damaged.
The dining area fared much better, however, suffering only smoke damage.
St. Bernard Fire Chief Thomas Stone praised his firefighters' efforts in trying to save a business that he said has been a part of all their lives.
"(A reporter) asked if there were any injuries. I said, 'No, there's a lot of broken hearts.' I mean, this is such an icon in St. Bernard Parish, you know, the history that's been here," Stone said. "This is one of our backbone businesses. I mean, when they opened back up (in 2007), it meant that our parish was alive again after Hurricane Katrina."
It's a reason long-time customers like Louis Crovetto stopped by the charred restaurant after hearing the news.
"I knew Rocky and Carlo when they first came here. This is the place to eat. It’s as good as any place I’ve ever been and I eat here at least once a week,” he said. “(It’s) a horrible loss.”
But, while there are many challenges ahead, employees said -- just like in 2005 -- their story will continue.
"We survived that, you know, we're gonna survive this," Lucas said.