A fire broke out just after 6 p.m. inside the building on 85th and Amsterdam. E's Bar is on the first floor and Jacob's Pickles restaurant is next door.
The fire began in the third floor and then spread to other floors of the building.
From a nearby rooftop you could see the flames spreading fast through the old walk-up on Amsterdam Avenue.
"We just smelled something smelled like burning plastic," said Brady Byrnes, "E's Bar" employee.
"We could see when we went outside there was smoke coming up the roof," said Ralph Green, "E's Bar" employee.
"So I ran downstairs to the basement grabbed the keys to the building next door and we grabbed the fire extinguisher," Byrnes said.
"We just ran around yelling 'call 911, call 911,'" Green said.
"And then someone ran up and down the stairs banging on doors yelling 'fire,'" said Stephanie Gross, a resident.
Inside, Gross found herself face to face with a neighbor.
"He was like looking for his cat and trying to pour water on his armoire that was completely up in flames," Gross said.
"He was just like, 'My cat, my cat!' and he ran back towards the apartment but the door was locked. 'My doors locked, my doors locked,'" Byrnes said.
"I kicked the door to try to get it open but it was red hot, we couldn't get it open," Green said.
Firefighters arrived in minutes as the blaze quickly hit four alarms.
The flames had already consumed two floors and spread to the building next door.
"We have fire in two buildings. And it becomes very, very difficult because we can't get people here fast enough. Here we did, and we were able to get into both buildings at the same time," said James Leonard, Chief of Department, FDNY. "Here we are on a beautiful night in New York with a lot of people out, and that's how fast fires happen. And that's why it's so important that we get here quick."
There was one non-life threatening injury a civilian, and four non-life threatening injuries to firefighters.