The Red Steer Restaurant, an institution in Turlock for decades, was gutted by a fire early Thursday morning.
Turlock City firefighters responded to the fire at 4:15 a.m and had it under control two hours later.
Battalion Chief Gary Lunsford estimated the damage at $1 million and said the cause is under investigation.
The Red Steer, on Golden State Boulevard near Main Street, drew a loyal crowd for its roast beef, tri-tip and pastrami sandwiches.
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Scott Soiseth, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Lynette, son Tracy Smith and daughter Shae Smith, said he plans to rebuild and hopes to reopen in six months, though he said it could take as long as 12 months.
Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Sharon Silva, whose office is next to the Red Steer, said the restaurant has been around for about 40 years.
"It is truly one of the icons of Turlock," she said. "This is a sad day here."
Firefighters were on the scene throughout the morning, mopping up water and shoveling debris into trucks. The roof was gone and the interior destroyed.
There were no witnesses to the fire, said Lunsford.
The Soiseths and Smiths plan to open a Red Steer Restaurant on 11th Street in Modesto next week, serving freshly carved roast beef sandwiches and other specialities.
Bee staff writer Merrill Balassone can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2337.