By Trang Do

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The owner of South Philadelphia institution Melrose Diner is vowing to reopen as soon as possible after a fire closed the 24-hour restaurant on Wednesday. Crews have wasted no time starting repairs on the diner.

“My whole life, right here on this corner,” said Ernest Houston, who’s been an employee at the diner for over 60 years.

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Houston has reported to work at the Melrose every day besides Christmas since 1956, the same year the diner’s current building went up.

“I was a porter, then I moved up from porter to the night cook. Night cook to the day cook and then I went into maintenance,” Houston said. “This is my home.”

Houston wasn’t at work when he heard about the fire that broke out right around 6 p.m. Wednesday. His coworkers sprang into action, trying to put out the fire that they believe started in a vent here.

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“I look under the vent and there was like a plastic thing on fire, so we started pouring water on it but then it kept smoking, like building, so then me and all the cooks started getting buckets of water and pouring it all over the wall, like anywhere we can put it,” waitress Paige Clarke said.

All of the employees and customers got out safely. Owner Michael Petrogiannis said the cause of the fire was likely electrical.

In the best-case scenario, he’s hoping to reopen in a week and continuing a 63-year routine for Houston that he is anxious to resume.

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“It’s like getting up in the morning and somewhere to come to and enjoy yourself with the customers and employees. It’s great.”