Elvis may have left the building. But a crowd of 300 people had plenty to celebrate as they welcomed back Isaacs Avenue family restaurant Mr. Ed's.
Closed last December by a fire that destroyed the kitchen -- and damaged the signature Elvis Presley statue that greeted customers at the door -- the longtime local restaurant celebrated its comeback with live music, entertainment and a thank-you to its faithful customers. The original "Mr. Ed" himself, Ed Volkman, cut the ribbon for the official re-opening.
For about six months, Mr. Ed's continued on the restaurant scene with a temporary location at the Elks Lodge while restaurant owners Dan Givens and Craig Potter worked out details of the rebuild.
The re-opened Mr. Ed's has a larger dining space, bigger booths, new bathroom and an improved kitchen, courtesy of Opp & Seibold General Construction.
The restaurant's theme shifted during the rebuild as well. The fireplace in the middle of the room space for costumers. Along with physical changes, upgrades have been made to the menu including additions like Schwan's ice cream, more breakfast items, wraps and an "Off the Wall" menu.
Photos of the restaurant's regular customers are beginning to fill the walls. At the front of the building is the charred, blackened portrait of founders Ed and Norma Volkman. The photo barely survived the fire but remains as a symbol of the past. The blank walls remain for more framed photos of patrons.
"It sounds hokey, but it really is a family operation," Givens told the Union-Bulletin. "We treat our customers like family."
Because of the bonds created through the tragedy, reopening the restaurant was a meaningful experience to both owners.
"It means we have everyone working and we're back around the people we love," Potter said.