The smoker in the kitchen at Redd’s Smokehouse BBQ was doing its thing Monday afternoon preparing pork for an event the restaurant was catering the next day.

Then came the malfunction and a fire that turned the kitchen into a blazing inferno in less than 10 minutes, according to owner Nick Mauldin. Thanks to a fast response from area fire companies, the fire was contained to the kitchen and basement.

“We were very fortunate to have such a quick response from the fire department,” Mauldin said. “If they were five minutes later, we would have lost buildings downtown.”

The restaurant will need to close while the kitchen is restored, but the damage to the building was contained in such a way that the residents of the apartments above Redd’s were not displaced.

Mauldin said the restaurant is closed on Mondays, and the kitchen manager who was working evacuated safely so there were no injuries.

Now, Mauldin’s biggest concern is for his employees, about a dozen of them, who are looking at about six weeks of being out of work.

“I worry for them, and I worry for what it will look like when we come back,” he said.

The remediation team is already at work, but Mauldin knows he would have had plenty of people to help do the work, if necessary. The Redd’s Facebook page is full of offers from the community to assist, and Chef Exclusive, a catering business located next to Redd’s, gave Mauldin the use of its kitchen to finish the catering job for Tuesday.

“Even if our restaurant burnt down, we honored our commitment,” Mauldin said.

Redd’s neighbor to the north, Market Cross Pub and Brewery, has offered its assistance.

“We are devastated for them,” said Market Cross owner Ashleigh Goss Corby. “They are such kind people and, as neighbors, we have offered assistance and support for anything that they may need. We hope the restoration process is speedy and painless for them.”

Redd’s is looking at options to give its employees some work by possibly offering a buffet at an alternate location during this weekend’s Ice Arts Fest.

Mauldin is taking the whole experience in stride, confident that the setback will eventually prove to be a net positive for the business.

“I think it’s going to work out well, and, in the end, it will be a ‘meant to be’ thing,” he said.

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