Restaurant Closed By Fire Vows to Pay Employees Until Reopening

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The owners of Calico County in Fort Smith say it could be months before they reopen. Employees learned Tuesday they will get to keep their jobs and receive paychecks until the restaurant reopens.

Investigators say the kitchen caught fire around 2:30 a.m. on Monday. Firefighters say the building suffered severe smoke and water damage.

One day after the devastating fire, the owners of Calico County gathered their employees to give good news.

“We were all scared. We didn't know what was going to happen,” said Kristin Gordon, an employee.

Gordon and approximately 60 other workers will continue to get paychecks until the restaurant reopens.

“I really don't know what we would have done if we hadn't gotten this news today,” said Gordon.

The owners spent the past 24 hours working with their insurance company.

“The immediate need was to take care of you guys especially with it being the holidays,” said Scott Blair, owner.

Employees toured the restaurant Tuesday for the first time since the fire.

Blair said he is not sure if they will rebuild or relocate. He hopes to make an announcement by the end of the week. “Probably if we did do a move somewhere here in town we could get open a little earlier,” said Blair.

Employees miss coming to work. “Everybody makes you feel right at home from the moment you start,” said Morgan Smith, an employee.

Workers plan to help with cleanup. “I've never worked anywhere like this before,” said Gordon. “It's family. It's not just a job.”

Gordon says she is ready to get back to work. The owner plans to have the restaurant open within the next year.