Smithfield restaurant reopens eight months after fire
Posted December 8, 2010 9:09 p.m. EST
Updated December 8, 2010 11:25 p.m. EST
Smithfield, N.C. — Holt Lake Bar-B-Que and Seafood reopened Wednesday, eight months after a fire gutted the 30-year-old Smithfield restaurant.
"It's good to be back. We're tickled to death to be back," said Diana Futch, a 29-year employee who was working the drive-thru window at the restaurant, 3506 U.S. Highway 301 South, Wednesday.
Investigators said they believe the April 18 fire started when some fluorescent lights shorted out.
"It was a total loss," said owner Terry Barefoot, who vowed in April to rebuild. "It's good (to be open again). It feels like old times, really, like it used to be."
Barefoot planned to reopen for just a few hours Wednesday as a test and then do a grand reopening on Thursday. However, once the word got out, loyal customers came pouring in.
"It just kind of escalated, so we might as well open up," Barefoot said.
"We missed it. I mean, we eat here almost every night," said customer Haley Jones.
Barefoot said in April that he was worried about the restaurant's 20 employees. However, insurance money helped keep the staff on payroll while the restaurant was rebuilt.
"We've been looking forward to coming back ever since we've been closed," Barefoot said.
April's blaze wasn't the first fire to affect the family-owned business. In 1981, a fire burned the original restaurant to the ground. After that, Holt Lake reopened in a new building, at 3506 U.S. Highway 301 South, 60 days later.