HOULTON, Maine — The owner of a landmark restaurant is not about to let a fire snuff out his dreams.
Less than two weeks after a fire destroyed the Elm Tree Diner on Bangor Street, Gary Dwyer said Thursday that he will rebuild.
In the meantime, he will put his staff back to work and satisfy customers’ cravings for the diner’s fare by opening up his restaurant in a new space until he can rebuild at the Bangor Street location. The original restaurant opened there in 1945.
Dwyer said the restaurant would reopen temporarily in the space vacated when a Governor’s Restaurant closed in April 2008.
The fire broke out just before 11 p.m. Sept. 27, and was caused by a malfunction in the building’s electrical system.
When the Houlton Fire Department arrived at the restaurant, which many in the town considered a landmark, smoke was coming from a window in the kitchen area.
Despite the firefighters having the blaze under control in 45 minutes, the building had extensive smoke and water damage.
No injuries occurred. The restaurant was insured.
Close to 30 employees have been out of work since the fire.
Located on North Street adjacent to the Shiretown Motor Inn, Governor’s closed four years after it opened when soaring energy and food costs became too difficult to overcome.
Dwyer said that his manager first approached him with the idea of using the vacant Governor’s space.
“But it was one of those days,” he said Thursday, acknowledging that he initially brushed off the idea. “Then I got home and thought about it and decided to do it.”
He said that he hopes to reopen the restaurant next month.