Smoke billowed from a manhole after an underground fire in Midtown Monday evening.
The utility company Con Edison said that a transformer explosion probably caused the problem, something that happens sometimes after snowstorms.
Firefighters evacuated workers and customers from a nearby cafe on 51st Street.
"We just saw the smoke coming inside the store, and the smell was so bad, and all of the firefighters came and said that we have to get out from there," said one person.
There were no reports of injuries.