Breaking News
More () »

Whitehouse Inn partially reopens, fundraises for employees

The Whitehouse Inn, a town staple, was forced to shut down due to a fire on Wednesday. Owner Tony Fronk estimated repairs will take two weeks.

WHITEHOUSE, Ohio — Two days after a fire temporarily shut down the Whitehouse Inn, the restaurant partially reopened Friday afternoon with a fundraiser to support the employees while the historic, family-owned business works to fully reopen.

Owners Tony and Marcy Fronk said they wanted to take care of their employees, so 100% of the proceeds from the fundraiser -- which saw the inn's bar reopen and the Fronks' other restaurant, Crust Pizzeria, serving prime rib -- were given to the staff who ensured the Whitehouse staple ran served its loyal customers.

Tony said prior to the fundraiser, the community had already donated $500-600 to the employees.

Marcy said after announcing the bar would reopen, the customers who loved the food poured into the Waterville Street restaurant to show their support by opening a tab.

"It's just a great community out here," Tony said. "We really, really love them and support them. They turned right back around and supported us right back."

The fundraiser is just the beginning, though.

It's "like a 'Chopped' challenge," Marcy said, referencing the popular cooking reality show. "Tony, myself, our general manager and our back-of-the-house kitchen manager, we're thinking about having a challenge in a commercial kitchen and having judges."

Regulars, like Robin Halay, lined the bar on Friday as patrons filled the room with drinks, smiles and laughter.

"A lot of the regulars were concerned about the employees and the health of the restaurant," Halay said. "So, for them to be open, even partially, is a huge success and we're all very thankful."

From the inside of the inn, you might think things are back to normal. Regulars are in their seats and bartenders are serving drinks and snacks. However, there's still plenty of work to be done.

"There's a hole in the roof. There's a hole on the side of the building. There's a hole on the other side of the building," Tony said. "To get it all cleaned up and get the side of the building, they've got 15 air exchangers. All trying to get the air cleaned up."

Tony estimated the repairs would take two weeks, but he's hoping the fixes will be quicker than that so he and the rest of the Whitehouse Inn can get back to doing what they love.

The Whitehouse Inn's bar will be open all weekend, the Fronks said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out