Already hurt by state shutdown, family-owned Grove City restaurant gutted by fire

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GROVE CITY, Ohio — A local family is at a loss after the restaurant they own was gutted by fire.

The fire was reported around 4 a.m. Thursday at Blu-Willy's in downtown Grove City.

Now, a business already battered by the state shutdown faces an uncertain future.

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Blu-Willy's was the realization of a dream for Bryan and Sarah Smink.

"It started as my husband's he's always wanted to have a restaurant," said Sarah. "He went to culinary school. Had this dream before we even got together."

Years in the making, the restaurant opened last September. They named it for loved ones they'd lost.

"Blu is our dog, and then Willy was after his dad who passed of cancer. We opened on his birthday, which was September 21."

Thursday morning, they were woken up by a terrible phone call.

"We got called in the middle of the night and came down here, and everything was gone," Sarah said.

Their restaurant had been gutted by flames.

"I fell to the ground and started crying. There was nothing we could do. This is our dream. It's crushed. Just waiting on what to do next," she said.

Where to start, she said, she doesn't yet know.

They'd already been tested by the coronavirus outbreak and state shutdown.

"It was heartbreaking, you know? We worked hard, spent so much time and so much money into this place. That was like the first blow."

They had to lay off their staff and shift to carryout service, but were surviving with the support of their community.

Sarah said it was going so well, that they were considering hiring some employees back.

Until this.

"I just can't believe it," she said. "It's a complete loss. We just loved the business, love the family we made working here."

There's a lot they don't know yet, but say they will be back.

"We have to start from basically day one again. We'll push forward. Just gonna take time."

Investigators are still working to determine what caused the fire.

They are looking at the possibility that it was sparked by lightning.

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