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Kountry Kitchen takes first steps toward rebuilding

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A fire-ravaged restaurant in the Kennedy-King neighborhood took its first steps toward rebuilding.

Demolition efforts began Thursday at Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, located at 1831 N College Ave.

The sight of construction crews at the iconic establishment sparked hope among Hoosiers eager for signs of progress as COVID-19 kept businesses shuttered across the nation.

The family-owned restaurant was known for its hearty comfort food and annual Christmas drives before it burned down in January.

Foul play was ruled out but the cause of the fire was never determined, according to investigators.

The incident mobilized community members’ intent on giving back to a business built on generosity.

Donors contributed nearly $50,000 to rebuilding efforts, including $25,000 from Jim Irsay, the owner of the Indianapolis Colts.

“When Kountry Kitchen burned down, I don’t know that I had ever seen that kind of community support for a business,” said Regina Marsh, a spokesperson for Kountry Kitchen. “I’ve seen it for individuals. I’ve seen it for community centers. But I’ve never seen it for a business.”

Demolition is expected to be completed by early May, she told News 8.

The restaurant had initially been slated to reopen by August; pandemic-related disruptions would delay the reopening by at least six months, according to Marsh.

Kountry Kitchen staffers were taking the changing plans in stride, she said, but worried about finding a temporary venue for their holiday meal and toy giveaway.

They typically serve thousands on Christmas, Marsh said.

“That’s the hardest thing for us,” she told News 8. “Where do we continue to serve people when we might not open until February of next year?”