Houston & Peach

‘The flame was high in the sky,’ restaurant owner recounts of Commercial Circle fire

Restaurant owner captures video of Commerical Circle fire

Adriana Ivanus couldn't help but cry when she saw a Commerical Circle building that houses her Greek Village restaurant in flames Nov. 22, 2016, in Warner Robins. She captured images of the fire with her cellphone.
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Adriana Ivanus couldn't help but cry when she saw a Commerical Circle building that houses her Greek Village restaurant in flames Nov. 22, 2016, in Warner Robins. She captured images of the fire with her cellphone.

Adriana Ivanus was at home fixing a late bite to eat when she got the word that her Greek Village restaurant on North Commercial Circle was on fire.

She dropped everything and headed to the fire scene with her fiance and daughter.

“The flame was high in the sky, and I realized that everything in the back is lost,” Ivanus said.

The 10:15 p.m. fire Nov. 22 destroyed the Oceans Night Life nightclub and Lucky’s Boutique. The Greek Village’s tile ceiling and the roof above it were damaged in the fire. The restaurant also suffered smoke and water damage.

Choi’s Oriental Market & Korean Restaurant suffered some smoke damage, while CC’s Wings & Fish had some smoke and other damage.

Warner Robins Fire Chief Ross Moulton said the blaze remains under investigation. The fire is thought to have started in Oceans Night Life, which had a wide open space conducive for the feeding of a fire, he said.

Firefighters focused their efforts on preventing the fire’s spread though the shared building, Moulton said.

The establishments, which are housed within the quarter-circle shaped building, share a common roof and attic space.

 

Adriana Ivanus hopes she will be able to reopen her Greek Village restaurant on North Commercial Circle.

Flames reached as high as 30 feet at the height of the fire, Moulton said.

“Everybody tried to come and calm me down,” Ivanus said of those — from employees to Mayor Randy Toms — who arrived at the scene to comfort her “I was shaking and crying. I didn’t know what to do.”

She took several photographs and posted a video of the fire on her Facebook page. She didn’t leave the scene until 4 a.m. the next day.

Ivanus and her daughter run the Greek Village restaurants at 1801 Watson Blvd. and 421 N. Commercial Circle. The fire has closed the Commercial Circle location.

“I do want to reopen, and I can’t wait,” Ivanus said. “I’m so thankful that nobody got hurt.

“But in the meantime, I’m worried about the employees — that they don’t have a job now,” she said.

Eight of her employees are out of work because of the fire.

“And the business, I’m losing business every day,” Ivanus said. “As much as I try to accommodate the business from North Commercial Circle with the business on 1801 Watson Boulevard, that place is not as big to combine both together.”

The Commercial Circle location served primarily Robins Air Force Base workers and business and city government employees.

Ivanus hopes that the Commercial Circle location will remain viable, but that call will have to be made by the building’s owner.

Sol Hirsh, who owns the building and the recycling business behind it, said it’s too early to determine what may happen. But he would like the shopping center to remain intact.

He noted the ongoing fire investigation by authorities and insurance investigators and pending insurance claims have to be resolved before a decision is reached.

Constructed in 1942 by the government, the building is one of the oldest shopping centers — and possibly even the first — in Warner Robins, Hirsh said.

Back in the day, the shopping center housed a grocery store, a bank, a barber shop, a drug store and other businesses.

Hirsh’s father purchased the building in 1959, and the rental of its office spaces has well served his family financially through the years.

In fact, the building is so intertwined in Hirsh’s life that it almost feels like a family member, he said.

“I was just in complete shock,” Hirsh said when he learned of the fire.

Hirsh and Ivanus had nothing but praise for Warner Robins firefighters.

“The fire department did a great job of saving the rest of Commercial Circle,” Hirsh said. “If possible, we’re going to try and rebuild.

“I mean, Commercial Circle, like I said, is the original downtown of Warner Robins, and hopefully it will come back. The city is doing a great job of trying to bring this area back and hopefully we can be part of it. We’re looking ahead — not behind us.”

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

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