If you had driven down Bumby Avenue over the weekend, you may have noticed a convoy of service vans surrounding Beefy King, the landmark Orlando sandwich restaurant that was the target of an arsonist Nov. 12. The fire was confined to the exterior of the building, but minor water and structural damage caused in extinguishing the blaze caused the 51 year old restaurant to close.
But thanks to the fleet of electrical, structural and painting service people, Beefy King was able to reopen Wednesday morning.
And Orlandoans came out in droves to welcome back their king.
At one o’clock, the parking lot was full and there were converging lines of cars to merge into the takeout lane. A staff member worked the line of vehicles to take orders in an effort to expedite the process.
There was a long line inside, as well, but no one seemed impatient. They all appeared relieved that they would once again have the steamed beef sandwich they thought they may have lost last week.
Ceiling tiles that had been damaged by firefighters looking for sparks were replaced and the whole ceiling seemed to gleam anew. The smoky smell that permeated the day after the early morning fire was gone.
Outside, the fire damaged eaves were repaired and freshly painted.
Less than 24 hours after the fire, Orlando police arrested 36 year old John Cairl Huff in front of the Drunken Monkey Coffee Bar next door to Beefy King. Huff remains in Orange County Jail on a bond set at $3,500. Although he spontaneously told the arresting officer that he had set the fire and can be seen appearing to ignite it in an image from Beefy King’s surveillance camera, Huff has pleaded not guilty.
Beefy King co-owner Roland Smith originally thought the restaurant could reopen after just a couple of days. But because of a loss of power during the fire, the entire food stock had to be replaced, and repairs took longer than anticipated.
Still, an eight-day turnaround is pretty impressive.