PLATTSBURGH — Damage from an Aug. 21 fire at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Plattsburgh proved far worse than first thought, but with repairs nearing completion, the restaurant is scheduled to reopen Tuesday.
Michael Tallman, restaurant manager for M&W Foods, said they initially planned to reopen Aug. 27, expecting repairs would be completed by then. But Burlington-based G.W. Savage, hired to do the work, found a bigger job than expected.
"We had to gut about 40 percent of the interior," Tallman said.
Albany-based White Management is the parent company of M&W Foods, which is its fast-food branch. White Management Above Restaurant Leader Joey Owens, whose job is comparable to district manager, said this has been a learning experience.
"You never really know how hard this will be until it affects you," he said.
M&W also owns Dunkin' Donuts, Taco Bell and A&W restaurants in the area. The managers of those locations were able to find work for most of the 26 employees displaced while repairs were under way, Owens said.
He said it will be great to get those workers back on their regular jobs.
A cigarette butt discarded in a mulch bed along the western exterior wall at KFC is believed to have started the fire.
When City of Plattsburgh firefighters arrived, they found the fire had spread from the base of the wall to the roof line. They had to remove portions of the exterior and interior walls to ensure the flames were extinguished.
"We thank them for being here quickly and extinguishing the fire before it got out of hand," Tallman said. "You never really realize how much damage a cigarette can cause."
There was no cigarette-disposal receptacle near the door where the butt had been tossed, but there will be now.
Owens said damage to equipment was mainly cosmetic. Friday, the interior of the dining room was still empty as crews from G.W. Savage continued cleaning equipment outside.
Tallman said they have had tremendous support from their contractors and suppliers. Bruce St. Pierre of Pierre and Sons was there the first night, he noted, to make sure the roof was covered to prevent more damage.
Others include Harvey Electric, Mars Mechanical, Pepsi, Adirondack Alarms, Fire Protech, Par Technology, Sherwin Storage Containers, Adirondack Energy and Adirondack Waste.
Tallman also thanked Claude Bouchard and Kyle Burdo of the City of Plattsburgh Building Inspectors Office and Susan Thew of the Clinton County Health Department for their assistance.
"Everybody responded very quickly and in a positive way," Owens said.
The restaurant plans to have some welcome back discounts when it reopens, he said.
"We want to let the public know we missed them," said Owens, who in a white suit and carrying a cane was dressed in the fashion of KFC founder Col. Harland Sanders.
"We'll help them get their chicken fix."
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