Local News

Wilson Restaurant Rises from the Ashes

Posted August 14, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— When a February fire gutted Worrell's Seafood Market in Wilson, recovery seemed hopeless. However, the owner did not let flames torch tradition.

Customers returned to Worrell's Tuesday, enjoying the banana pudding and seafood the restaurant is famous for.

The fire destroyed almost everything, from equipment to antiques. Up until a few weeks ago, the entire building was an empty shell. Owner Barry Ruffin rallied his employees to help rebuild the restaurant. Every worker was back in place Tuesday.

"It's remarkable," Ruffin says. "In the restaurant business, it's unheard of to keep anyone. I've had people for 15, 16 years. Everyone came back, and I think everyone was happy to come back."

Sadie Mobley has worked at Worrell's for 10 years. She says a two-way respect keeps employees in the family.

"They tell you what needs to be done. You do it and everything's all right," she says. "You make a mistake, they don't jump all over you like other people do. They talk to you in a respectful way."

Customers seem to appreciate the cooperative atmosphere.

"We've been missing it for several months," says diner Baxter Dean. "But we're sure glad they're back open -- and delicious seafood. You can see we really enjoy it."

The restaurant's reopening was popular. Between 600 and 700 people came in for lunch on Tuesday.