SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — A Wears Valley restaurant was nothing but rubble to start the work week following a fire over the weekend. While fire crews are still looking for a cause, other businesses in the area are trying to be there for the owner.
Jerry Sandifer of Exit Tennessee Realty Pros is just two doors down from Geppetto’s Italian Restaurant. Sandifer said he was driving to check on his office after a friend called him and told him about the flames. He was just one of many who often stopped in for something to eat.
“Got down and could see the smoke from a couple miles away and the road was full of fire trucks,” Sandifer said of the scene.
Another one of those frequent customers is Mark Booth of Mountain Realty Group.
“You always knew they were going to be open,” Booth said.
His business is located directly next to the eatery. One reason Booth said Geppetto’s was so beloved was because they didn’t strictly focus on the tourists, but remembered the locals who lived there year-round.
“They were always good about being an integral part of the Wears Valley community,” he said.
Across the street, the manager of Hillbilly’s Restaurant explained the people who work along this stretch of road are a family.
“A lot of people think we’re in competition with each other, we aren’t,” Jeff Spagnola said. “We feed off each other, we work with each other, and we help each other as much as we can.”
They all hope to see Geppetto’s doors open again soon.
“It’s going to be a loss, and hopefully they will get up and running soon,” Sandifer said.
“They will be sorely missed until they’re open,” added Booth.
Sevier County Fire Department officials were scheduled to start their investigation Monday into what caused the fire.