SNELLVILLE - Those who dined on barbecue at A&J Tasty Pig or shopped for furniture at Under Priced Rooms in downtown Snellville will no longer be able to do so. The businesses were destroyed in a fire Wednesday night.
Gwinnett County Fire Department spokesman Lt. Thomas Rutledge said firefighters found the brick building at 2578 W. Main St. in flames at 10:45 p.m. He said the businesses were closed at the time and no one was injured.
Rutledge said firefighters believe the fire started in the furniture store and spread to the restaurant. He said investigators are unsure of a cause.
"Right now we're in the investigation mode," Rutledge said. "But investigators have not found any indication that points to a suspicious fire."
He said it took firefighters about an hour to bring the fire under control. Help from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was requested because of the size of the fire. Rutledge said U.S. Highway 78 between Ga. Highway 124 and Henry Clower Boulevard was closed briefly while about 50 firefighters worked to diminish the blaze.
Rutledge said passing drivers and customers eating at a nearby Waffle House noticed the smoke and called 911.
"I didn't see the fire," said Waffle House cook Mary Dawson. "I just saw it after if was burned and they finished knocking it down."
John Garner Jr., owner of the Tasty Pig, said he is unsure what he is going to do now that his original restaurant is gone.
"It all hasn't really sunk in yet," Garner said. "It's been a sad day."
He said the popular barbecue restaurant just reopened in December after it had closed briefly due to the opening of his second location in Grayson.
"We were just getting back going," he said of the Snellville location.
The Tasty Pig had been in downtown Snellville for 28 years.
"A lot of people came through those doors," Garner said. "You knew some were going to come in on Tuesday or for dinner Wednesday night or breakfast Saturday morning. And if we didn't see them we'd ask, 'Hey, where have you been?'"
Former Georgia Transportation Commissioner Wayne Shackelford said he often ate at the Tasty Pig.
"I ate there for years. It was a place where a whole lot of people gathered on Saturday mornings," Shackelford said. "It was a part of Snellville; it was a part of Gwinnett, part of our culture."
Owners or employees from Under Priced Rooms who shared the building with the restaurant could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Rutledge said firefighters remained at the scene Thursday, flowing water to wet down smoldering hot spots uncovered by fallen debris.