Everyone is in disbelief about the loss of the local landmark.
"It's devastating," said local realtor Ron Zarantenello. "Stray Dog is important to the local community and tourism."
Diners inside say they didn't have much time to react they just had to leave the building.
“It was really scary,” said Lily Molina, who was in town visiting from St. Louis. “My family and I were sitting in the restaurant, and all of a sudden, a ton of smoke was coming up and everyone was smelling it, and we were like 'what is that?' And the workers were like 'everyone needs to get out.'
"It took awhile for the big flames to start coming on the roof, but there was just so much smoke," Molina continued. "There was just a ton of smoke everyone. They started setting the sirens off for the roof that it was collapsing, so I guess it finally collapsed. (Firefighters) were spraying a ton of water. There's a ton of fire everywhere. And it was more sad because all the workers said they left their keys and wallets. People left stuff like their phones in the restaurant when it happened.”
“This is a big fire with limited staff,” said New Buffalo Assistant Fire Chief Jack Kennedy. “Fortunately, most of our people showed up. We got the good equipment. We needed a lot of manpower and needed it quick, and that’s what we got. We had New Buffalo city, New Buffalo Township, Chikamming Township firefighters..pretty much 3 departments.”
"The manager smelled smoke a little bit," Kennedy added. "She tried to check it out, came to the front, found smoke near the front office area. At that point, it looked like flames were coming out of the side of the building. At that point, she told the (other) manager what's going on. He said, 'I'll be there in a minute.' Then, they evacuated the building, which was a good thing to do. Then, they called us."
"I talked to the manager who called (the fire) in," said Kennedy. "Also talked to the owner of the property. Tried to compare stories. Stories matched up, what the manager told me and what she told the manager."
The owners of Stray Dog posted on their Facebook page a thank you to staff for helping protect customers and fellow employees.
"We would like to thank the police and volunteer firefighters for their quick response and dedicated effort to save our restaurant. We are extremely proud of our staff and would like to commend them for the great job they did ensuring the safety of everyone in the building. We also cannot thank everyone in the community and local businesses enough for the kind words and support. It means a great deal to us. We are relieved that there was no injury to anyone, only damage to the building itself. It's just the shell that's gone, not our spirit. We are currently trying to regroup and rebuild and plan to open as quickly as possible. We'll be seeing you soon!"
But it's clear the bar will be closed for some time.
We’re told workers will learn more about their jobs and the restaurant’s future this Friday.
Firefighters aren't saying what the cause is for sure, but we're told they're looking into whether it may have been electrical.
We talked to a few men who went inside the restaurant Wednesday afternoon. They told us there were some problems with the wiring.