New and old fans of Dot's Restaurant in Wilmington filled the restaurant for brunch on Saturday it's re-opening weekend.
Owner Patty Reagan said, "Today it feels, it feels almost like we never left."
But owners Patty and John's beloved local hub of eating and conversation did go away for awhile.
The business, along with the town of Wilmington, was hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene on August 28, 2011.
"We were destroyed," said Reagan.
She said when they knew the storm was coming, she had to make a choice - on what she should save that was truly irreplaceable. She took some old photos from the fifties of her treasured restaurant. She said she knew she could never get those back.
"It looked really, honest to God, like a bomb had gone off," she comments.
The Reagans said their spirit stayed strong, but when they looked at the reality of rebuilding their business, they said it looked out of their reach. That's when the local community and organizations refused to let Dot's go.
"We got the support of every organization that we dealt with, from the local level, to the state level, to the federal level," said Reagan.
The owner said when rebuilding it was important to keep original elements of the structure. So that the look and feel of Dot's was just the same as it had ever been. And everyone pitched in.
"There are the same tables, my father refinished them all," said Reagan.
Linda Farrington worked as a waitress at Dot's when she was 14. The restaurant has been heart of the community for a long time.
"It's a great restaurant, always has been and always will be," said Farrington.
"This is our halfway point to our destination between Albany, New York to Deering, New Hampshire," said one traveler, Leo Vogelien.
The Reagans couldn't wait to welcome back old friends, including their staff.
"They said they would wait for us, they found other jobs in the meantime, - stood behind us and said, if you do it, we will be back," said Reagan.
Rob Schluter has been coming here for thirty years.
"I was ecstatic that it was reopening. In the beginning, I wasn't sure that it would reopen. Patty and John weren't sure they were going to go through with the rebuilding, since it was a long process," said Schluter.
And Saturday a packed restaurant enjoyed the fruits of their collective efforts.
"Thanks for waiting!" laughs Reagan.
Camaraderie, old friends, and building new memories, things like Dot's, that are irreplaceable.
Monday, March 10 2014 11:30 AM EDT2014-03-10 15:30:05 GMT
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