Grand Opening Spoiled by Flames

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SWOYERSVILLE -- Just weeks before its owners were going to open a new restaurant, it went up in flames today in Luzerne County.

Crowds gathered to snap photos and take video as flames tore through this building on the corner of Main and Hughes Streets in Swoyersville.

It's a building that neighbors say has a lot of history.

"It used to be an old-time bar called Stachaks Café and all the guys, all the miners used to go there after they worked in the mines. It was there forever and ever," said neighbor Sue Coulter.

This is what's left of it now, just as owners were about to keep the legacy alive and open another restaurant here, called Back Road Ale House.

Neighbors say they were looking forward to another restaurant opening up in this building. They say it was supposed to open up in two weeks, and that that sign just went up a week ago.

"The last two months, I`ve seen contractors here day and night, 10, 12 hours a day working on this place. It`s a real shame," said neighbor Joe Salvato.

"They had really good pizza, and I was really looking forward to it," said Coulter.

Police say one person was inside the building when the fire started, but got out okay. Joe Caruso says that person was his ex-girlfriend. He says she's at the hospital for breathing in too much smoke but is going to be fine. Joe's apartment inside, above the new restaurant, isn't so lucky.

"It`s rough. Everything is gone," said Caruso.

The State Police Fire Marshal ruled the fire accidental late this afternoon, but there's still no word on what caused it. The Red Cross is assisting Joe Caruso, the man who lived here.