Byron — Following a fire early Monday morning, Janelle’s Family Restaurant and Tower Hardware were destroyed and three surrounding businesses were damaged.
The fire started in an empty apartment above the two businesses around 2:30 a.m. Monday. No one was injured.
T.J. Clark, emergency manager for the Shiawassee County Homeland Security said, “At this time the fire is extinguished, they’ve finished their mop-ups of any hot spots.”
Clark said that 11 different emergency departments were on scene for mutual aid, which included Burns and Gaines township fire departments, Corunna/ Caledonia Fire Department and Howell Fire Department.
“It’s a sad, sad thing, most definitely,” said Janelle’s Family Restaurant server Chrysti MacCombs. “Everyone there was like family and it’s hard to see our house gone.”
Restaurant owner/chef Rob Durk and his wife Sherry opened Janelle’s Family Restaurant in early 2009 and named it in memory of their daughter, Janelle, who was killed in an automobile crash in July 2006. They built the restaurant to remember and celebrate their daughter’s life.
By Monday afternoon, the scene of multiple fire trucks, media groups and standing crowds started to disperse and Michigan State Police Emergency Management began to assess the safety of the structure along with structural engineers.
At this time, the cause of the fire is unknown.
Since the fire, owners Rob and Sherry Durk have been busy meeting with fire investigators, detectives and insurance agents. “We had a long day yesterday,” said Rob.
The Durks rose at 3 a.m. to see their building on fire. “My heart and soul was in that place, I built it almost from the ground up,” he said. “It was very upsetting watching it go down.” Also lost in the fire were portraits and pictures of his deceased daughter, Janelle, the restaurant’s namesake.
They will continue to operate the banquet center in Argentine Township, but it’s too early to decide on rebuilding. “The public’s definitely crying out for us to re-open,” said Rob.