Brooksville, FL- Just over a year ago, Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant suffered a devastating overnight fire that left 45 employees without a job and a community without their beloved local eatery. On the coldest morning of last year as the building smoldered, owner Joe Giarratana said “we will, God willing, rebuild and it will be better than ever”. Today marks just over 13 months since that tragic day and a brand new building stands tall on the same footprint. The design is reminiscent of Papa Joe’s tiny hometown in Palermo, Italy. “Its got a familiar feel, like coming home but its all custom and new” said long time employee, Lindsey Tafelski. The heavy, solid wood front doors are not yet open to the public but there is a big production taking place behind them. The Papa Joe’s family of employees is busy stocking and preparing to reopen. Standing in the stately foyer, there are tradesmen putting on finishing touches, an old world fountain being plumbed, beer taps being set, and the clank of shiny new pans being stocked in the kitchen. Stemware is being polished and crystals hung on the chandeliers. A brand new, state of the art automatic barista is working overtime making fresh lattes and chai tea and the aroma permeates through the place. Three days after the fire, Joe and Donna called a meeting in the garden, on site faced with the task of laying off all of their employees. “We were so very heavy heartened to leave 45 people without a job and we are so very blessed to have so many of them back again” Donna said. Many of the long time veterans of the iconic restaurant are back to work at their little Italian home away from home. The restaurant will begin soft openings this weekend and intends on a somewhat hush, hush opening on Tuesday at 11:00. The grand reopening festivities are scheduled to take place starting Tuesday, March 17th. Nearly 35 years ago Papa Joe and Momma Donna opened their tiny pizza parlor in the middle of nowhere. Today they look forward to opening a beautiful, state of the art, custom restaurant and continuing their lifelong passion on the very same foundation. Salute! Papa Joe’s is now refined by fire!
Special thanks to Ezekeil’s Photography