Three years to the day after a fire delayed the opening of Mayfield’s Cracker Barrel restaurant, a second fire caused minor damage Tuesday.
The restaurant on U.S. 45, just north of the interchange with Interstate 69, remained closed on Tuesday afternoon. A hand-written sign posted outside the restaurant read “Closed due to maintenance. Thank you.” Mayfield code enforcement supervisor William Higginson said a repair crew was on site. A regional restaurant supervisor said he hoped it could reopen quickly, perhaps as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
“The nighttime crew was closing the store down for the night,” Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason said. “I think they were doing their final walk-around before locking up and going home, and they smelled smoke and something electrical burning. They couldn’t see any flames, but the 911 report said the building was filling up with smoke.”
The 911 call came in at 12:15 a.m., and firefighters arrived on the scene just before 12:19.
“There was minimal fire,” Creason said. “The fire was kind of in the wall between two studs in the exterior wall.”
Firefighters pulled two water hoses into the building.
“They found the origins of the fire,” Creason said. “They very quickly and with minimal amounts of water extinguished it. Had there been another five or 10 minutes, it could have been a very different story because the fire was starting to work its way up the walls.”
To make sure they had gotten it all, firefighters sawed into a few feet of an exterior wall, exposing the exterior studs, Creason said.
The fire was electrical in nature and was located immediately behind a dishwasher, Creason said.
“It’s very isolated to that specific area,” he said of the fire damage, but he added that smoke spread throughout the entire building.
Janella Escobar, Cracker Barrel's director of corporate communications, released a brief statement Tuesday afternoon. It read: "Around 1 a.m. last night, a small fire broke out behind a wall in our back-of-house area due to a service disconnect from the dish machine. The fire department responded quickly and was able to extinguish it with minimal damage to the building. A home-away-from-home, the safety and well-being of our employees and guests is always our highest priority. We are thankful for their quick action and that no one was injured in the incident. Restoration and repairs are already underway, and we expect to reopen soon."
The Graves County Health Department and city electrical and codes inspectors had to sign off on the repairs before the building could reopen, Creason said.
A June 11, 2016, fire at the same Cracker Barrel, then under construction, was much more major and delayed the opening by about a month.
At the time, former Sheriff Dewayne Redmon said he thought that fire might have been intentionally set and asked the state fire marshal to investigate. The fire marshal’s office later ruled it accidental, saying that the fire started in a cardboard bin near the restaurant’s front door that was filled with construction debris. Although it was never proven, the investigator said he believed a container of extremely flammable floor finishing material discarded inside the bin caused the fire.