Employees work to reopen Knoxville restaurant damaged by arson

Employees work to reopen Knoxville restaurant damaged by arson


6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The fire may be out, but the work to reopen Texas Roadhouse is far from over.

"Unfortunately we're in demolition phase at this point," said Ron Houser, the East Tennessee market manager for Texas Roadhouse.

Investigators confirm Tuesday's fire that destroyed the front portion of the West Knoxville restaurant was intentionally set.

With the help of surveillance video and evidence found on scene, investigators say they have "persons of interest" for the arson.

For the restaurant's staff, it's been a difficult week.

"It's a very hard thing to go through especially for young people," said restaurant manager Ginny Mattison. "For many, this is their first experience with a tough experience like this."

And the timing of the fire hasn't been easy.

"It's been stressful for some people, for me as well, because we have bills coming up," said Hannah Dukes, a server who's worked at Texas Roadhouse off Morrell Road for three months.

Dukes and the rest of the employees have been working non-stop to help ensure the restaurant can reopen by the end of next week, an effort that hasn't gone unnoticed.

"They're working hard here with a  positive attitude, I'm impressed and humbled by their efforts. They have a family spirit that will surely get us through this," Mattison said.

The restaurant's manager says they will probably have lost a quarter of a million dollars, from rebuilding to the loss of sales. But the employees aren't letting it dampen their spirits.

"It's comforting, we just try to support each other, we're just having fun in the worst situation and just building on each other," Dukes said.

The employees say they're humbled by the outpouring of prayers and support from the community as well.

"People wanting to come by to know that we're ok and what they can do to help, because it's our job to serve others," Mattison said of the community's response.

A job they hope they'll be able to get back to by next Friday.

Knoxville Fire Department is offering a reward for anyone with information about the arson. If you any information you can call 865-637-1386.


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