HARDY, AR (KAIT) - For a decade, the Downhome Country Kitchen has been a restaurant that served many throughout Region 8, but Friday afternoon a fire caused the owner to close its doors for the first time.
Barbara Homod, owner of the restaurant, said she left work to bury her dog that she's had since the restaurant's first Christmas 10 years ago when her daughter called her.
"She was hysterical and she said 'the restaurant is on fire,'" Homod said. "I said 'what do you mean it is on fire? I just left there.'"
Fire officials said when they got to the scene, the parking lot was packed with people who were eating there and flames could be seen shooting above the back corner of the building.
Jason Griffin, Hardy assistant fire chief, said the fire moderately damaged the outer wall, the ceiling, and the roof before they could put it out.
"Usually when the fire crosses the attic like that it is just hard to fight the fire and get it put out without the whole building burning to the ground," said Griffin.
According to Scott Rose with the Hardy Police Department, it was a matter of minutes that made the difference between the building standing or not.
"It does appear that they will be able to hopefully restore it and get it back where we can enjoy the food," said Rose. "It's good food and a good restaurant."
Rose said he saw how devastated the community was after getting news that one of Region 8's popular restaurants caught fire.
"Everybody just loves to come here and eat so I know I myself have already received some sad text messages from people who are very disappointed and hope it gets built back soon," Rose said.
Homod said the community's support for her business keeps her motivated to move on.
"Lady told me, 'I was in there eating and they told me to get out quick,'" said Homod. "So she handed me some money and said, 'I didn't pay for my food.' I laughed saying 'get out of here girl you don't have to do that!' She said 'nope, we got to start somewhere.'"
Her husband and business partner passed away four years ago but before she began running the restaurant by herself, he always had encouraging words for her.
"When my husband got really sick with cancer, last thing he told me was just keep at it, don't change nothing keep it in the middle of the road and life goes on. So life goes on," said Homod. "We'll make it."
The start of the fire is still under investigation but Homod said she will review the damages to see if and when she will reopen the Downhome Country Kitchen.
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