Golden Corral, the popular Columbus buffet and grill restaurant that was closed indefinitely in late June after an overnight blaze, has set a target window for reopening its doors.
General manager John Gilbert said Monday that the goal is to resume serving hungry customers in three to four more weeks, which would be the final week of August. Initially, there were hopes of reopening within a few days. Then it was pushed out to at least the end of July.
“I know one of the last things (for restoration) has been scheduled for the (Aug.) 23rd,” he said. “After that, it’s just getting everything back ready for opening, getting the building inspector, the fire marshal and everybody else that needs to do their inspections to sign off on us opening up.”
The fire started in the early hours of June 23 at the 1505 Manchester Expressway restaurant, with a kitchen grill igniting and being extinguished within a half hour by fire suppression equipment, but not before heavy smoke and water damage. Carpets and some drywall were ripped out, with some equipment also needing to be replaced.
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Gilbert chuckled Monday when asked if the restaurant is attempting to make sweet lemonade from lemons. After all, the incident will have disrupted the business and its loyal following of customers for more than two months by the time it opens again just before Labor Day. In essence, the distasteful blaze has prompted Golden Corral to make renovations that wouldn’t have happened at this time.
“It’ll look different,” Gilbert said. “It will have a new paint job with different paint colors, some of the wallpaper’s been taken down. There will be a few little upgrades in the dining room that should enhance everything ... It’s doing some repairs, some cleanup and giving the place a little bit of a facelift at the same time, and just doing a few other projects on the inside that will hopefully make it a better looking store for the guests.”
The 10,285-square-foot building was constructed on 2.5 acres in 1997, according to city tax records. A city building permit dated July 23 shows Golden Corral is spending $350,000 on some of the work, with Northfield, Ohio-based UHC Construction Services, which has a regional office in Atlanta, handling the restoration.
The general manager said he is planning some sort of special activity or event when the reopening does come, with groups of local customers already offering to help out. There is plenty of interest in the restaurant and its all-you-can-eat buffet with two party rooms finally getting back to serving the people, he said.
“I’m fielding about 30 to 40 calls a day, and guests still drop in and just check on it,” he said. “That’s great. It makes me feel good.”
Raleigh, N.C.-based Golden Corral was founded in 1973, with the family-style restaurant chain now having 489 locations in 41 states as of the first of this year.