Owner hopes to bring Riley's back after fire - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Owner hopes to bring Riley's back after fire

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A look inside Riley's on 1st Avenue after the fire. A look inside Riley's on 1st Avenue after the fire.
CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

Riley's Café on 1st Avenue in Cedar Rapids caught fire late Tuesday afternoon.

30 firefighters worked to contain the blaze and a three block section of 1st Avenue was closed for several hours.

The restaurant has been sitting at its location since 1971.

Richard Pankey, the Owner of Riley's says his family bought the business 13 years ago and renamed it to Riley's after his grandson.

Riley's, an icon in Cedar Rapids, is now burned and smoke covered.

"It has a lot of our special family memorabilia on the walls, which has all been smoke and water damaged, so that hurt," Pankey says.

Many pictures survived the flames but they are smoke damaged including a photo of President Obama in 2012, eating at the restaurant.

"He came here for breakfast one morning was here about an hour," Pankey told us.

The President signed the wall and wrote, "Great food."

"There have been candidates on a regular basis that come through Riley's it is definitely a place in Cedar Rapids to see and be seen, there are many many business transactions that go on here, it's a favorite meeting place for business men and for families to come and eat," Pankey says.

He plans to hopefully bring it back.

"It's a small space, to see if we can do it, if we can make the thing financially work and bring it back for the citizens of this community we would love to," Pankey told us.

In the meantime people can visit one of the other three Riley's locations in the city.

Starting Friday, people can also order Riley's food at Daisy's Garage which is just about a block away from the 1st Avenue Riley's location that is now closed.

Riley's breakfast at Daisy's Garage will begin at 6:30 a.m.

The Pankey family also owns Daisy's Garage.

Investigators believe the fire at Riley's started near a ventilation fan over the dishwasher, they have not yet determined how it started.

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