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Studabakers owner eyes June reopening

Downtown restaurant was razed by fire in January

Slowly but surely, Studabakers Beachside Bar and Grill is rising from the ashes.

Fire gutted the Mississaga Street East restaurant in the early hours of Jan. 22, causing up to $800,000 in damage and putting a few dozen employees out of work.

Owner Joe Winacott has spent a lot of time inside the charred building since then, doing his best to ensure it reopens as soon as possible.

“We’re getting further ahead than I thought,” he recently told OrilliaMatters.

He has applied for the necessary building permits. Once he gets them, structural work can begin.

He could have chosen to walk away from the business after the electrical fire — he even received offers of purchase days after the blaze — but he decided against it.

“We love the City of Orillia and the downtown core. We built the business up for 10 years, and I’m positive about getting back on track,” he said. “We know it’s a viable business. It’s a family business. Sure, I’m out of work, but so are my family and my staff.”

He said his staff “seem to be doing well.”

“Most of them have secured employment for the time being. Hopefully, we’ll get them back.”

After the fire, members of the community as well as other local businesses reached out to support Winacott and his staff.

“The community has been really helpful,” he said, noting some have offered meeting spaces and others found work for the displaced employees.

Once the structural work is finished, the focus will shift to the interior.

Winacott hopes to reopen Studabakers in June.

“You’ve got to look at the light at the end of the tunnel.”