Diner fire trial moved to county court

Photo by Jordan W. Patterson The Mayville Diner is pictured on Dec. 10, a day after fire gutted the popular restaurant. The Chautauqua County Sheriff's Office charged the diner's operator with third-degree arson on Tuesday.

MAYVILLE — The case of a Mayville man facing a felony arson charge for allegedly setting fire to a restaurant in early December has been moved to Chautauqua County Court.

Michael S. Ellis made his first appearance in Chautauqua Town Court on Friday afternoon after being charged with third-degree arson, a class C felony, for reportedly setting the Dec. 9 fire that destroyed the Mayville Diner. Ellis operated the diner and was reportedly making payments on the property to the previous owner.

Ellis, who waived his right to a preliminary hearing, was present in court with his attorney, Anthony J. Lana, of Buffalo. Lana said Ellis had no comment regarding the incident.

About 15 village residents were present in court Friday in “support of the diner,” which had been popular among locals.

The case will now be heard in County Court, where it could go before a grand jury.

Capt. Rich Telford of the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Investigation Team told The Post-Journal in December that surveillance video showed someone at the diner, located at 7 W. Chautauqua St., shortly before smoke was spotted around 10:30 p.m. Within moments, fire engulfed the building — a longtime staple in the village and open since 1950.