DANIA BEACH (CBS4) – Monday morning, construction crews began to rebuild a popular South Florida restaurant recently destroyed by a devastating fire.
Fire official say a faulty piece of laundry equipment sparked the fire which destroyed the kitchen and caused extensive water damage to the dining room and banquet facilities. In total, more than 17,000 square feet were destroyed.
“When you look, it can be overwhelming, but you take it in pieces,” said owner Jack Studiale. “There have been a lot of dark days, but some good days.”
Weeks after the fire, the Tropical Acres’ owners suffered another setback when they were targeted by thieves.
According to the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the owners and employees that were trying to clean up the mess inside the building and stored some appliances behind the building of a covered patio.
That’s when on October 3, an employee saw three men taking some items from the patio and called police, according to the BSO.
When BSO arrived they arrested Gary Favors, 21, and Neville Allen, 20. BSO detectives said they reviewed surveillance video and said they saw the two men along with two others on three separate dates removing appliances and loading them onto a truck.
The stolen items included: a utensil washer worth $22,000; a food warming cabinet worth more than $4,000; a water heater worth more than $5,500; a coffee machine worth $3,280; and a food warmer worth $3,350.
The family-owned restaurant is considered a South Florida landmark since opening it’s doors in 1949.
Through all of the ups and downs, the owners have persevered thanks to Tropical Acres regulars who continue to support their favorite restaurant.
“This is the first Thanksgiving we won’t be serving,” Studiale said. “That is unless we’re open by Thanksgiving, but I doubt it.”
Studiale said they are aiming to be open by mid-December and that the menu won’t change.