Exactly one year since a kitchen fire gutted the Centerville eatery, work has begun on the remains of Gina’s Restaurant that will see it reopened and serving food once more.
Construction workers hired by Butch Prichard, who will be the owner of the new Gina’s, began renovation efforts Monday that will include a new roof, interior, kitchen equipment and an expanded dining area. Not everything will be new, however, as Gina Evans, the original owner, will return to serve as manager.
Prichard is the owner of Therma-Fab Inc., a steel industry company with offices in Centerville and Titusville. He is a self-professed fan of Gina’s, having eaten there regularly.
“Well I’ve been coming and going (to Gina’s) for a long time,” Prichard said. “It was a nice place to be — had a lot of people from the Centerville area up there.”
Prichard and Evans got to talking about opening up the restaurant a few weeks ago. Evans said she missed interacting with her customers, whom she considers like family, while Prichard was “tired of not having a good place to eat” on Sundays, according to Evans.
While Evans was in the process of selling the eatery when the Sept. 9, 2018, fire which ravaged the building occurred, she agreed to stay on as manager for a while to help get the new version of her restaurant up and running. Meanwhile, Prichard said a staff member will be trained to eventually take up the managerial role once Evans is ready to step down.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’ll stay on as long as (Prichard) wants me to, or as long as I want to,” Evans said.
According to Evans, Prichard was the first person to actually come forward with an offer to buy the restaurant after it was destroyed in the fire. Many others had shown a passing interest, but never seemed to follow through.
For the most part, the new Gina’s will be very similar to its original incarnation. The menu is planned to stay mostly the same as it has been, with maybe a couple of additions. The weekly Friday fish fry will make a return as well.
However, there are several new features in the works that diners can look forward to. Alongside the fish fry, there will be a taco and chicken wing night on Thursdays, as well as a prime rib day on Saturdays.
Prichard said that the new restaurant would feature a theme focused on Centerville’s history. While the decorations are still in the early planning stages, Prichard intends to showcase significant events in Centerville’s history in some way once the eater is complete.
As the fire had started in the kitchen area of the original Gina’s, much of the old cooking supplies and equipment had been destroyed in the blaze. As such, the kitchen will have all new sets of apparatuses for the kitchen staff to utilize, including an extra deep fryer for the fish fry nights.
Above all, Prichard hopes that the new Gina’s will bring back a central part of the community. To him, Gina’s was a place for everyone in town to have a chance to meet up.
“I’m happy that I can get involved with it, and there’s a lot of good people up here in Centerville,” he said. “it’s a nice spot.”
The new owner is shooting for a Nov. 18 opening date, though plans may change as reconstruction efforts continue. The business will be open seven days a week, 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday through Friday, and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday.
For Evans, it is a chance to recover emotionally after the devastating fire suddenly took away the business she had run for 39 years.
“Oh, it wasn’t very pleasant,” she said of the fire. “It was like losing a part of me.”
Applications are currently being accepted for the new Gina’s Restaurant. They can be dropped off at Evan’s Auto Clinic, located at 16304 State Highway 8, in Centerville.
Ray can be reached, by email, at firstname.lastname@example.org.