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Middlebury mourns the loss of the Hilltop Restaurant

MIDDLEBURY, Ind.-- Around 6 p.m. during the diner rush, a grease fire broke out in the kitchen and quickly spread to the roof of the Hilltop Restaurant. 

Everyone inside was evacuated as they watched firefighters fight the flames for an hour before it finally died down.

Middlebury residents are still in disbelief a day later. 

"This is where I got my first job in 1972 here at the Hilltop Restaurant," says restaurant regular, Gene Troyer. "It's been a part of my life all my life and it's going to be missed. Generations grew up in this place and life long friendships were made here and it's just never going to be the same." 

People, like Brenda Horein, were still driving up to the restaurant throughout the day expecting to grab a bite.

“We were going to come here today in fact to get one of their specials that we really like. We even have our favorite table here. So we’re just sad. It’s a big loss," Horein said.

Jim and Janet Froelich say they were just waiting for their kids to come in town, only days away, to take them here. 

“We have family from out of state that comes here and this is usually the first stop that we make for the typical breakfast. Hilltop has been the standby for many many years," Froelich said.

40 years to be exact. 

The restaurant was only days away from celebrating 60 years since their doors opened. 

The Hilltop Restaurant owner, Esther, shares her biggest worry was the expansion of U.S 20 into her parking lot. 

Now she's unsure what will happen to the Hilltop legacy.

She mentions she is so grateful to her community and past guests who she considers family.

Luckily no one was hurt during the fire.

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