FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Fire and smoke heavily damaged part of the iconic Lonesome Dove restaurant in Fort Worth.  The restaurant is owned by nationally recognized chef Tim Love who is known for his creative use of unique meats in his dishes like kangaroo and rattlesnake.

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“We don’t know the extent of the damage so,…excuse me,” Love said as he stopped in the middle of his sentence to choke back emotions. “We’re just glad everyone is safe.”

Love and his Lonesome Dove restaurant have become known in national food circles, especially after Love won a nationally televised Iron Chef America competition.

The fire was first reported just after six in the morning.

“It was a significant fire when we arrived,” said Fort Worth Fire Department Captain Tom Crow. “We had several calls before we arrived on the scene.”

Love says the fire appears to have started on the porch behind the building, possibly in an air conditioning unit, and spread to the kitchen.  The main restaurant received extensive smoke damage.  Banquet rooms and a catering kitchen were spared.

A Fort Worth Fire Department spokesman said early estimates placed damages at about $30,000.

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Employees chipped in Tuesday with the clean-up.  The building is without power so workers took food to local food banks before it could spoil.

Love says he’ll work around the clock to reopen his restaurant.  Love’s business has many restaurants and food endeavors. But for thirteen years,  the Lonesome Dove has been his crowning jewel.

“This is our baby for sure,” Love said. “This is the first restaurant I ever opened up on my own with my wife. We’ve worked really hard to get the restaurant where it is, no doubt about it.”

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