FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – A devastating structure fire rocked the Fayetteville community on Thursday as crews battled the blaze at the iconic Secret Sandwich Society restaurant.
Despite the significant damage, owner Lewis Rhinehart says they will rebuild and be bigger and better than ever.
“I came right down, and that’s where we’re at. Part of the building is caving in. We’re fully covered. The building is completely covered. We have business interruption insurance. No one was hurt. We’re going to make sure we take care of the staff, make sure everybody continues to get paid and we’re going to open. I mean, we’re going to rebuild,” he said.
Rhinehart says he believes it was an electrical fire as he says it started in the bottom of the restaurant.
Fayetteville Fire Captain Matt Jefferies says it was an employee who discovered the smoke Thursday morning and called 911.
“One of the employees came to work around 7:30, found smoke in the upstairs portion of the building, and we investigated and went to the downstairs where the kitchen was at. There was a fire in the kitchen area. He evacuated, called the fire department,” Jefferies said.
And now begins the rebuilding process for the popular restaurant. To help out, in true Fayetteville fashion, the community has thrown their arms around the staff both literally and figuratively.
Within the hour of the news breaking, community members created a GoFundMe and it has already almost hit the $20,000 goal in the first day. Local businesses have also pledged their support to fundraise or supply free meals to the staff.
Rhinehart says his phone was blowing up with support all morning as the community rallies around a place and their people who have always been there to rally around them.
“I bought this place in 2012. I’ve prided myself in being part of the community and have helped build Fayetteville larger than the sum of its parts and the love is coming back, and it’s really quite amazing,” he said.