Four months and four days after a fire gutted the original Nu-Way Weiners restaurant at 430 Cotton Ave. in Macon, workers began tearing down its remains.
Co-owners Jim Cacavias and Spyros Dermatas said Friday they hope to reopen on the site by fall 2016.
The Cotton Avenue Nu-Way was the original franchise, opening in February 1916 and serving up hot dogs and fries through the years to Average Joes as well as celebrities such as Little Richard Penniman and Oprah Winfrey.
In March, an electrical fire started in the warehouse located behind the restaurant, and witnesses that morning before dawn reported seeing flames as high as 20 feet in the air. The fire spread quickly, destroying the warehouse, the restaurant, the company’s offices, a commissary and an empty office space that Cacavias and Dermatas also owned.
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The cousins, whose family has owned the Nu-Way restaurants in the midstate for three generations, said they’ve been able to make it through the ordeal thanks to community support.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Dermatas said. “We have a loyal fan base. Throughout Middle Georgia, our customers have been going to other Nu-Ways. ... They’ll go an extra two or three miles for their Nu-Way fix.”
Dermatas said customers who usually went to the Cotton Avenue location have switched to the Nu-Ways off North Avenue, Napier Square or Northside Drive.
Cacavias said there were eight or nine workers who worked at the Cotton Avenue location. They are working at the Nu-Way of their own choosing until the restaurant is rebuilt.
The rebuilding process likely will take six to nine months, Cacavias said, and he and Dermatas are trying to salvage as much of the original brick and wood as they can to be used in the rebuilt restaurant.
“That’s the game plan,” Cacavias said. “Hopefully, we’ll know for sure what we’re doing in the next 60 days.”
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report.