Restaurant Fire Devastates Community

May 23, 2011 Updated May 23, 2011 at 5:33 PM EDT

By Jaclyn Asztalos

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May 23, 2011 Updated May 23, 2011 at 5:33 PM EDT

LACKAWANNA, NY ( WKBW ) A fire in Lackawanna rips through a restaurant that residents said was a staple in the community. It is called Cup Of Joe's and some people have been going there for their coffee for more than three decades.

"It's actually an icon in the community for quite some time since the early 70's. Joe Paolini started this then the son took over," Lackawanna Mayor Norm Polanski said.

"Joe Paolini Jr. And has family stared disheartened at the charred remains of their restaurant. They did not want to talk on camera but they did tell Channel 7 that their father had passed away and the restaurant was filled with memories. They were able to salvage a flag and military paraphernalia belonging to their dad.

As the family deals with the loss, so does the community. City Council President and Paolini's friend Chuck Jaworski said it was a special place in town.

"It was a meeting place for the community. It's open six days a week. In the morning, we'd discuss the world problems," Jaworski said.

Fire officials said they arrived on scene just before five this morning but said the fire was burning for hours.

"Found heavy fire load in the back of the building we attempted to do a rear attack but the back of the building began to collapse. They had a rubber roof and it prevented us from putting out the fire from above," Fire Captain Thomas Mendez said.

Despite the challenges, fire fighters got the blaze under control but they said the building is total loss and residents said they lost a wonderful part of their community.

"It's a sad day. We hate to lose a business but we also hate to lose something that people recognized when they went through the city," Polanski said.