DURAND — Not even a major kitchen fire can keep good restaurateurs down.
The owners of Union Station Smoke House, unwilling to wait for the building to be renovated after a February fire damaged the kitchen, opened Friday with the help of a food trailer they fixed up and placed next to the bar/restaurant, 205 E. Main St.
“We couldn’t wait. We weren’t going to just sit around,” said David O’Bryant of Ovid, who owns the eatery with his mother, Colleen Bradley, and Dennis Sharp. “We wanted to do something, so when this opportunity came up we decided to jump on it.”
The menu’s the same (except for a few missing side dishes), but for now the barbecue pulled pork, chicken, briskets and more are being cooked inside the Union Station Smoke House trailer and served on the restaurant’s outdoor patio or to go.
The eatery is open for business from noon to dusk today, and next Wednesday through May 8. Hours beyond May 8 will be posted soon on the Union Station Smoke House Facebook page, where the reopening was announced Thursday night.
O’Bryant said he’s hoping the restaurant’s dining room, with bar service, will be ready to use in time for Durand Railroad Days, May 13-16.
The owners are aiming to reopen the entire eatery, including the bar and kitchen, by mid-summer.
Terri Mayers of Lennon, one of the more than 5,000 people who had viewed the announcement by Friday morning, was the makeshift restaurant’s first customer, showing up right around noon.
“Our house was on fire a month ago,” Mayers said. “We feel their pain and wanted to support them.”
O’Bryant, Williams and their five employees were getting the restaurant ready for the Super Bowl crowd when on Feb. 5 a fire destroyed the kitchen. The bar was heavily damaged by smoke, which also damaged the dining room to a lesser extent.
“We were all geared up and ready to go when the fire happened,” Bradley of Gaines said.
Union Station Smoke House employees didn’t quit after the fire, instead sticking around to help clean up and reorganize the main building, and renovate the food trailer. And the restaurant didn’t lay them off, though working hours had to be reduced.
“Everybody, from Dennis Sharp to all of our employees, were willing to help us,” Bradley said. “They were there. They have been with us through thick and thin. Our people are awesome.”
She said Durand residents have been very supportive as well, stopping by after the fire to offer and give help. The owners have lost track of how many times they’ve been asked when Union Station Smoke House will open again.
Electrical wires arcing and sparking behind the building likely caused the blaze to break out, Durand fire Chief Nick Spaniola said at the time. The result was “kind of devastating,” but O’Bryant and Bradley said they are determined to get the eatery completely up and running again.
“We are going to be back better than ever, it will just take some time,” O’Bryant said in a Facebook post. “We got this!”
In 2018, O’Bryant, Bradley and Sharp purchased Union Station Smoke House from Michael Malachowski, who opened the eatery in 2016.