Fire crews went to the call around 4:30 a.m. at Tang Dynasty, which is located near Shaw and West avenues.
Workers spent the day cleaning up a lot of water damage and washing blackened floors in the kitchen of Tang Dynasty. Investigators say someone torched several spots inside a room to try to destroy the building.
"It's someone's livelihood. Obviously, someone had malicious intent to inflict either harm on maybe the business, or something like that, or maybe they were covering up something that they have done themselves," said Capt. Robert Castillo with the Fresno Fire Department.
About 30 firefighters were called to put out the flames in the roughly 5,000-square-foot building. Before they arrived, they say someone had broken into the front door, stolen money, and set at least two fires inside the restaurant.
"One of the biggest challenges and one of the things that we are concerned about is the size and the type of occupancy; in this case it was a restaurant, and in that case you have tables, chairs, and the layout is unfamiliar territory," said Castillo.
The owner, who didn't want to appear on camera, said he was forced to throw out about $3,000 worth of food, and he added that the damage will cost him about $30,000.
Customers told Action News that they're disappointed because they couldn't eat food from the buffet this weekend.
"I don't understand why; that's pretty stupid, honestly, and I think they should go to jail because this is not right to just ruin a restaurant," said Waseem Musleh.
The restaurant is closed, but the owner expects to reopen for business on Monday.
If you have any information about this crime, you are asked to call police.