A Gilroy landmark restaurant shuttered more than six months ago by fire began rebuilding this week and hopes to be serving its legion of fans again real soon.
“We have our permits and we’re in a position to start work in the next couple of days,” said Longhouse Restaurant co-owner Danny Maroudas.
“Hopefully we’ll be up and running by late March,” he said.
That would be a welcome reunion of ham and eggs for the many regulars who have phoned Maroudas and building owner Lynn Wagner wondering when they will again be able to gobble down their favorite pancakes, cheese omelets, robust dinners and oh, that coffee.
The July 2016 kitchen fire was not a big one, the restaurant more than a decade ago suffered one that was much worse.
But this time around the combination of damage from fire, smoke and sprinkler water—and later a leaky roof—was extensive, Maroudas said.
If he is up and running by March, he will have been closed—and his 25 employees out of work—for eight months, which matches how long he was shuttered after the prior fire.
This time, while huge new kitchen hoods and other cooking equipment was damaged and must be replaced, extensive collateral damage to the booth and table areas of the Monterey Road eatery has presented the owners, Maroudas and his uncle, Pete, with the opportunity to completely upgrade the dining rooms and the popular adjacent Beehive, Lounge, according to Maroudas.
He is keenly aware of the plight of employees who have been out of work; some have been with him for more than half the 40 years he has served up breakfast, lunch and dinner to Gilroy and its visitors.
“I really look forward to having them back,” he said of his cooks, servers, cashiers, busboys, bartenders and others.
Great food has a lot to do with a successful restaurant, but “the relationship between customers and employees mean a lot to a business,” too, Maroudas said.
Daytime bartender Monica Roorda echoed her boss’s sentiments.
“Oh God I miss my customers, they are a great bunch,” she said as she walked through the disheveled, muddled mess left by the fire.
Because of the extent of repair work needed and the emergency nature of the closure, and given the complexity of getting all the vendors lined up, Maroudas said he is very happy to be on schedule with the rebuilding.
And he gave great deal of credit to the city inspectors and building officials who have worked hard to make sure all that is being done is done well and up to code.
His longtime landlord, Lynn Wagner, formerly of Gilroy and now a Willow Glen resident, bemoaned the loss of livelihood for Maroudas, his family and his employees.
“I feel sorry for Danny and Pete, this is their livelihood sitting on hold and they had to lay off all those people, I just don’t understand why it takes so long for (the city) to pull it all together,” she said. “It has been dragging on way too long.”
Her husband, Tom Wagner, is the property manager. He said a leaky, post-fire roof caused even more inside damage and it was not until last week that a permit was issued for a new roof.
He recalled when the uniquely situated restaurant, it straddles a narrow waterway, was designed by former Mayor Roberta Hughan’s firm and built about 40 years ago as the Busy Bee Restaurant. It was sold to and renamed soon after by the Maroudases.
“They’ve been there ever since,” Tom Wagner said. “It’s a landmark, a meeting place for everybody; it’s always busy.”