Fire seriously damages popular Haddon Twp. diner

Firefighters battle a deep-seated blaze that broke out in the Crystal Lake Diner on Cuthbert Boulevard, Haddon Township, just before11 p.m. Sunday. No one was injured, and officials said the fire started in the basement.
Firefighters battle a deep-seated blaze that broke out in the Crystal Lake Diner on Cuthbert Boulevard, Haddon Township, just before11 p.m. Sunday. No one was injured, and officials said the fire started in the basement. (ELIZABETH ROBERTSON / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 04, 2014

Ray and Millie Snap often sat in the same window booth at Crystal Lake Diner, she ordering eggs over light with toast, he ordering the salad with carrots and radishes - the best salad around, he called it - from the waitresses they knew by first name.

On Monday, the wife and husband pulled up to the diner in Haddon Township again, but this time with sadness. A bulldozer sat in the back, where a partially collapsed roof revealed the damaging aftermath of a two-alarm blaze that erupted around 11 p.m. Sunday after employees had left.

"That was my favorite diner," said Ray Snap, 72, of Pennsauken.

No one was injured in the blaze at the popular spot on West Cuthbert Boulevard. The cause was under investigation Monday, but fire officials said the flames started in the basement and took several hours to control. Part of the first floor also collapsed.

"Firefighters were really challenged," said Bill Behnke, the Haddon Township fire marshal, adding that the building was "pretty much" totaled.

It's unclear whether the diner's owners will rebuild. They declined to comment Monday.

The family-owned diner operated for more than two decades and promoted itself as having a "friendly neighborhood atmosphere."

Customers such as Snap echoed that characterization Monday. "It was a real friendly place to go," he said.

Half a mile away, on the same street, a fire also damaged the popular Tom Fischer's Tavern on May 21. The owners there said a smoldering cigarette was suspected as the cause, and that they planned to reopen.


mboren@phillynews.com

856-779-3829 @borenmc

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