Iconic New Farm institution New Farm Deli was gutted by fire early on Saturday morning.

Fire crews responded to a 12.20am triple zero call from a worker at the nearby Coles supermarket who smelled smoke, the ABC reports. It took almost 30 firefighters more than an hour to bring the flames under control, by which time the building had suffered “significant damage”, a fire service spokesperson told the Brisbane Times. The Times reported that fire crews remained at the Merthyr Road premises until 8am, dampening down hotspots.

Talking to Broadsheet on Tuesday, co-owner Maria Anello says she could barely believe the news when her daughter called in the early hours of Saturday morning to say that the cafe and deli were ablaze. “It was like a lightning bolt,” she says. “Nobody goes to bed expecting to be woken up to something like that. I couldn’t tell you the words we felt, but it changed our lives forever.”

In photos supplied to Broadsheet by New Farm Deli's Sebastian Anello the venue is blackened and barely recognisable, with the ceiling completely burned away.

The exact cause of the blaze remains unknown but is no longer being treated as suspicious by investigators. Early reports that one of cooktop burners had been left on later turned out to be incorrect.

“The fire contained itself to the roof but everything else is smoke and water damaged,” Maria says.

The Italian deli was an institution for the New Farm community, providing traditional Italian cheeses, meats and other delicacies for more than 40 years. The plan is to rebuild but Maria won’t be drawn on a timeline. “It’s still early days,” she says. “[But] with the help of all the people we can muster up, we will start from scratch again.”

Additional reporting by Matt Shea.

Update: New details have been added about the cause of the fire.