FRAMINGHAM (CBS) — As usual, there was a steady stream of customers at J&M Diner Sunday morning–but instead of having breakfast, they had mostly come to pay their respects.
Some, however, had no idea that the restaurant burned down in an early Saturday morning fire, along with nine other businesses in the Old Path Village Complex.
“We pulled up and I was like, ‘what happened?’ I was hoping maybe they had decided to remodel, but it didn’t look that way,” one woman told WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karyn Regal.
Fire crews were back at the scene Sunday morning. The diner’s oven vent was tilted and near collapse, and the roof was completely gone. The building was declared a total loss. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
One visitor said Framingham had plenty of chains, but family restaurants like this needed to be saved.
“We love them, they’re really good people,” said Sue, who said she usually comes with her family.
Former customers came with ribbon to spell out on the fence, “J&M Strong,” offered condolences and encouragement, and reminded the owners of all the good they had done–messages like “You comforted me when I had postpartum depression,” or “You didn’t give my autistic son a hard time.”
Karen Fiore, one of the owners of J&M, said that helps.
“When people die, they don’t get to hear how they affect other people’s lives–and yes, this is a death for us, for our whole family, but we get to hear all the positive things, how we’ve affected people’s lives,” she said.
Jackie St. Hilaire fights back tears as she looks at what used to bring her so much joy.
“I’m devastated over the loss. It’s just a building, but a big part of my life,” St. Hilaire said.
Now her Styles & Smiles hair salon is nothing but a pile of rubble and her dreams and business gone up in flames.
“To see this is just heart breaking,” St. Hiliare said.
On Sunday, David Mezzone returned to see J & M Diner gone.
“My father and I have breakfast all the time. It’s a horrible thing to witness,” Mezzone said.
Fortunately, no was killed or injured but the pain runs deep. Jackie says her biggest concern is not her building but her customers.
“Primarily children and special needs kids. I loved this place. This was my home away from home,” St. Hilaire said.
Meanwhile, diner manager Olivia vowed to continue on despite the fire.
“The diner fell,” she said. “We didn’t.”
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karyn Regal reports