One employee and one firefighter had minor injuries in the...

One employee and one firefighter had minor injuries in the fire at the Grand Lux Cafe at Roosevelt Field Wednesday, officials said. Credit: Howard Schnapp

A “difficult” fire that started in the kitchen of a Roosevelt Field mall restaurant and spread to its venting system forced the evacuation of five employees Wednesday morning as they prepared to open for the day, fire officials said.

One firefighter and an employee were treated for minor injuries after the fire inside the Grand Lux Cafe, officials said. The restaurant is separate from the Uniondale shopping mall and was closed at the time of the fire.

Firefighters from six Nassau departments responded to the blaze after an 8:47 a.m. automatic alarm, said Nassau County Chief Fire Marshal Michael F. Uttaro. Other departments were called to assist and firefighters were able to keep the fire from spreading to a restaurant next door and a nearby mall parking structure, fire officials said.

The fire erupted on a kitchen stovetop inside the restaurant, which sits on the corner of Ring Road at the mall's northwest corner. It then spread to the ductwork venting system, Uttaro said.

“Because the fire moved into the ductwork, there is extensive overhaul [operation] because they have to chase it, opening ductwork, opening walls, to make sure they got all the sources,” Uttaro said. “It’s just an extensive process, because it’s the only way they can be sure it’s all been extinguished.”

No customers were inside at the time and all other workers were able to safely evacuate, according to Uttaro.

Said Westbury Fire Chief LaShaun Carr of fighting the fire: “It was very rough.” 

The ductwork was difficult for firefighters to access, Carr said. Also, he added: “This building is two levels, so it made firefighting operations very difficult.”

The Grand Lux Cafe, located next to the AMC Roosevelt Field 8 and the mall parking garage, is part of a chain owned and operated by The Cheesecake Factory, with locations in Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, and Paramus, New Jersey, among others. 

“We had a fire that took place this morning at our Grand Lux Cafe in Roosevelt Field before the restaurant opened,” said Alethea Rowe, a spokesperson for Southern California-based The Cheesecake Factory Inc., in a statement.

“We would like to thank the fire department for their quick response and helping to limit the damage,” Rowe said. “We are working with the fire department to determine the cause of the fire, but right now our first priority is the well-being of our staff members. The restaurant is currently closed and will reopen as soon as the necessary repairs are made.”

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