"Everything started in the kitchen, said Carlos Onate, an employee at Los Aztecas. "Don't know how it happened — just run to outside, bring people out from the building, and I called 911."
The restaurant is on Lake Michigan Drive near 52nd Avenue.
The smoke was so bad the workers next door had trouble breathing.
"It was a little bit of a panic the fact that the smoke was filling up our building pretty quickly," said Ben Miller, who works next door to the restaurant. "Had to grab rags, cover our faces, try not to breathe it at all. It was a horrible smell."
Rescue and fire crews lined the street, stunned by the extent of the fire.
"It's not like we get this every day," said Brian Terpstra of the Georgetown Fire Department. "Lot of fire, lot of heavy smoke."
One person suffered from smoke inhalation, authorities said, and the building is considered a total loss.
"I think they're unfortunate because they didn't have sprinklers in there," Allendale Fire Chief Mike Keefe said. "If they (did, we) could have saved a lot more of the building than we did."