MANHATTAN — A smoky fire broke out in a popular and packed Midtown diner near Penn Station Sunday morning, fire officials and witnesses said.
The blaze erupted in the facade of Tick Tock Diner, at 303 W. 34th St., which is housed in the New Yorker Hotel building, around 10:15 a.m.
At the time, the eatery, which can seat 300, was packed to the gills with guests and more were standing online, according to workers.
"It was a full house," said Steve Tsiolis, a waiter. "We seat 300 people and it was a Sunday morning, so people were waiting on line."
But guests didn't seem to be too concerned with the smoke that began filling the restaurant.
"People kept eating," he said. "They didn't want to leave their food."
Luigi Forgione, 42, of England and a guest at the New Yorker Hotel, said that he had just left Tick Tock after eating breakfast when the fire broke out.
"You couldn’t see any flames," he said. "All you saw was everybody coming out and smoke. The whole place was smoked out."
The flames extended to the second floor of the building, but firefighters were able to able to bring the fire under control soon afterward.
"There is a fire in the Tick Tock Diner," tweeted @simonsaybrams. "A thick layer of smoke has slowly appeared all around us. Stay tuned for more breakfast updates."
FDNY Chief Chris Boyle said that the blaze seemed small when department units first arrived, but quickly grew.
"When I first got here there was just a wisp of smoke, but within five minutes, the restaurant was [filled] with smoke down to the floor," he said.
Boyle said the fire, which did some damage to the floor above, appeared to be electrical.
But the owner, Alex Sgourdos, said that he was told by firefighters that the blaze may have been sparked by a cigarette that was flicked next to the diner's metal facade, which has wood underneath.
Aside from the damage to the restaurant's exterior, the inside only received minor damage. Sgourdos said he plans to reopen Tuesday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries.
The city's Office of Emergency Management said to expect travel delays in the area.