‘We will get through this’: Grumpy’s owners begin grueling effort to clean up, rebuild

Longtime friend asks community to rally behind Grumpy’s owner through GoFundMe

Popular Middleburg restaurant Grumpy’s is on the road back to re-opening thanks to some helping hands and generous hearts.

MIDDLEBURG Fla – Popular Middleburg restaurant Grumpy’s is on the road back to re-opening thanks to some helping hands -- and generous hearts.

Co-owners Dell and Courtney Hoard, along with their staff, began sorting Friday through the aftermath of Wednesday night’s devastating fire. All day they came out the restaurant, evaluating what could be salvaged, like a stack of menus, benches, the stove and grill.

But there were two things, in particular, Dell said he was grateful weren’t touched at all: a cross in his office and a flag with challenge coins, reminiscent of his days as a federal law enforcement officer.

“I was really happy to see both of those things stay strong,” he said. “It just means a lot.”

The Hoards assured the community, they WILL be back up for business as soon as they can.

“We know we will get through this,” Dell Hoard said. “If it is two months, if it’s four months, we will open again, and we will be better, bigger and stronger.”

To help with that mission, Leah Currie, who said she’s been friends with Dell Hoard since kindergarten, started a GoFundMe and several local businesses donated food and cleaning supplies for the rebuild effort.

“To see the business go up in flames and really everything they have worked so hard for in the past two years be lost in seconds, it was gut-wrenching for me,” Currie said. “I know how hard they have worked to get to where they are.”

The community support means everything to Courtney Hoard

“They have been so helpful, and the amount of love and support we have received has been overwhelming,” she said. “It’s amazing that everyone has your back. It makes you feel better. It makes you want to work harder and get open again.”

Firefighters were first called to the restaurant shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday. Clay County Fire Rescue said when they got there, they found heavy fire and smoke coming from the back of the building. The restaurant was closed at the time and no one was hurt in the fire.

According to Clay County Fire Rescue, the fire appears to have started in the kitchen. Once it was out, burn marks were visible on the walls, with water damage and pieces of the ceiling coming down.

Photo taken inside Grumpy's following fire. (News4JAX.com)

The restaurant, which has been open for a little more than a year, was forced to close until it can recover from the damage.

“Our franchisees here, Dell Hoard and the family, I mean, they’re obviously devastated. This is their baby, they’re here every day. You know, this is our first franchise store,” said Daniel Deleon, president and CEO of Grumpy’s.

Currie said the Hoards grew up in Clay County and are an integral part of the community.

“I felt like there was something I needed to do to help get them back up on their feet,” Currie said of starting the GoFundMe account.

Currie said the main purpose of the GoFundMe fundraiser is to help the Hoards have enough finances to be able to keep their staff while they rebuild.

“My end result for them would be that they can keep all of their staff on board and bring them back to have their Grumpy’s family as one,” Currie said. “So that when they do get back up and running, it takes off with a bang.”

Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook also posted on Facebook, asking the community to keep the franchise owners in their thoughts as they work through this.

Deleon’s Grumpy’s has other locations in Orange Park and St. Johns County. A fourth location is being built in the Wildlight community of Nassau County.

The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the exact cause of the fire.

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