SACO — A seasonal restaurant on Ocean Park Road that had served steak and ribs for 30 years was destroyed by fire early Sunday.

Inspectors from the state Fire Marshal’s Office were at the Steak N Rib Restaurant on Sunday afternoon, starting their search for a cause.

They’re expected to continue their investigation today, after workmen stabilize a rooftop air conditioning unit to ensure that the building doesn’t collapse on inspectors.

“Structurally, I’d say the building is a total loss,” Fire Chief John Duross said. “It’s moved right off its foundation.”

The restaurant, with its familiar yellow roof and rustic decor, went up in flames around 2 a.m. Located near Old Orchard Beach, the business had closed for the season at the end of September.

Several local fire departments assisted, including those from Biddeford and Old Orchard Beach. The fire was out by 5:30 a.m. No one was injured.

The restaurant’s owner, Roger Crepeau, and manager, Annette McKee, live next door. They are devastated by the loss of the business and can’t imagine how the fire started, she said.

“We were there (Saturday) afternoon, cleaning and winterizing the building,” said McKee, 52. “Now, it’s gone. It’s our livelihood. We work 24-7, May through September, without a day off. We love that place. My kids grew up there and worked there. A lot of good things happened there.”

McKee said Crepeau, 76, wasn’t well enough to be interviewed for this story.

“He’s not doing too good,” she said. “He built this place. He spent a year traveling around Texas, perfecting his smoking technique and barbecue sauce recipe.”

McKee said the building was insured and they hope to rebuild.

“I don’t know if (the insurance is) going to be enough,” she said. “It was a tough year, but we made it through like we always do. Hopefully, we’ll make it again.”

The Steak N Rib Restaurant has many regular customers who come to the area each summer from across New England and Canada, McKee said.

“A lot of our regulars have already come by to see us,” McKee said. “They want us to rebuild.”

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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