NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Muddy Waters Cafe, known as a popular gathering spot and the scene of a Lifetime Christmas movie, was damaged in a fire Thursday morning.

“I’m just heartbroken,” said Mary Lou Gannotti, a customer. “It’s an amazing community institution. It’s a great place.”

The fire happened before business hours. The fire marshal told News 8 that the blaze started in a freezer in the basement, and appears to be accidental. Officials are still investigating what failed in the freezer.

The restaurant will be closed until further notice.

Gannotti was supposed to meet a friend at Muddy Waters Café to talk about their team for the End Alzheimers Walk. They never even considered anywhere else.

“It’s iconic,” she said. “It’s just a really iconic place.”

The fire chief said a passerby noticed smoke coming from vents on the side of the Bank Street building at around 5:30 a.m. Firefighters put out the fire within 15 to 20 minutes.

“It was quite a bit of smoke to remove from the building, so we were here for a good hour and a half or so,” New London Fire Chief Thomas Curcio said.

Offshore wind company Orsted has offices right above the café on the second floor of the building where smoke damage was minimal. Employees there may be able to get back in sooner than customers at the café.

“You can drive by here any time of the day and you’ll see the line out the door, and I know a lot of our firefighters usually stop in too to get something in the morning, so they were all pretty disturbed by the fire,” Curcio said.

Tony Swift, a chef at the next door Blue Duck restaurant, said he feels bad because he knows the neighbor.

“I mean I come here every morning for coffee,” he said.

David Preka, who spoke on behalf of the café, said he’s thankful for the support.

“It’s an overwhelming outreach so we’re thankful and appreciative to everyone, you guys out there so… and we’ll be back online very soon,” he said.