Downtown Atlanta restaurant damaged by fire

Atlanta firefighters battled a major blaze at a downtown restaurant Thursday morning.

The three-alarm fire broke out around 9:15 a.m. at 140 Mitchell St. in a building that houses Michon's Smokehouse. The building is a one-story structure between two four- to five-story buildings.

Around 10 a.m., firefighters "utilized a defensive strategy ... due to water, heat and fire damage to the structure," said Capt. Jolyon Bundrige, fire department spokesman. By 11 a.m., the fire was largely contained and firefighters were hosing down hot spots inside the building.

Terrance Mims, the restaurant's executive chef, told the AJC that he and two other employees were in the building when one of the employees looked up and spotted fire in the ceiling. The employees fled the building and called 911. Mims said the restaurant opened just two weeks ago.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire was under investigation, but Mims said the area where the fire was spotted was not the kitchen. Bundrige said there was "heavy damage" to the building.

Natali Michon Alexander, owner of the restaurant, said business had been strong since opening two weeks ago, and a grand opening was planned for March 23. She said she owns a second location in College Park, which has been open for 10 years.

-- AJC photographer Brant Sanderlin contributed to this article.