Local News

Electrical fire destroyed Kenly landmark

Posted September 3, 2008 5:39 p.m. EDT
Updated September 3, 2008 6:03 p.m. EDT

— A fire that gutted what some consider a small Kenly landmark was likely caused by an electrical problem in the kitchen ceiling, fire officials said Wednesday.

Four fire departments responded Saturday night to the fire at Patrick's Cafeteria, on U.S. Highway 301.

Although there were no reports of injuries, restaurant employees and town members say the fire is a heartbreaking loss for the entire community.

"It's a terrible tragedy for the entire community," said Vickie Hicks, one of the restaurant's 18 employees now out of work.

"As long as I can remember, I've been coming over here," longtime customer Jeanne Woodard said. "Every time you went in there, someone was gathered around and talking, sitting around and drinking coffee."

Patrick's was a family-owned business that opened 30 years ago this November as a Tastee Freeze. The owner changed the name in 1980 and handed the restaurant down to his son, Dale Moore, 15 years ago.

"I didn't realize how much it meant to everybody else and that was surprising and touching," Moore said.

That, he says, has inspired him to rebuild the restaurant and to come back bigger and better.

"I want to tear it down and rebuild a nice new building back for me, my family and for the community," he said.

There's no timeframe, however, for the restaurant to reopen but Moore says that with hard work, community support and faith, he has no doubt that it will reopen.

And loyal customers and employees are anxious for another helping.

"I ate my first hamburger here as a teenager," Hicks said.