Flames were shooting from a roof on Bailey Avenue near 238th Street less than an hour before midnight, CBS2's Alice Gainer reported Tuesday.
The fire spread, growing to four alarms and requiring nearly 170 firefighters to put out.
Business owner Jose Severino got a look at the damage inside Tilila Bar and Grill.
"I'm really sad now. I didn't know it was that much damage," Severino said.
Severino returned to his family restaurant of six years Tuesday morning and explained the call he got from his manager the night before.
"He said there was smoke coming out of my place," Severino told Gainer.
He told them to get out and call 911.
Ada Gomez's husband owns Con Sabor Latino, also there for six years. The past few years, she said, have been challenging.
"They had a problem with the gas, they shut it off for two months. Then COVID came, then this. It has been one after the other one," Gomez said.
At least five businesses are damaged, including a laundromat and bodega. Customers were heartbroken.
"We know everybody. We get our sandwiches here. Everybody hangs out," said Elvin Mendez.
The neighborhood was also the scene of an apartment fire back in September. It was across the street from the businesses.
Business owners said it'll take more than this to destroy their dreams.
"We're coming back, and I hope it's gonna be better," one owner said.
Some businesses located on the street directly behind the fire were closed Tuesday while the Department of Buildings came to inspect.
The exact cause of the fire is under investigation. One firefighter was treated for a minor injury.
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