Gorham House of Pizza owner Angelo Sotiropoulos is ready to reopen Wednesday after a fire. Here, Sotiropoulos is seen in his restaurant's new kitchen on Monday, Dec. 17, 2012.
By Leslie Bridgers
GORHAM – Jody Johnson and Wayne Baker will get their date night back.
Facebook fans can stop posting about how they miss their favorite menu items.
And Phillip Smith can finally answer his 3-year-old daughter when she asks, "When can we go to the pizza place?"
The Gorham House of Pizza will reopen Wednesday, eight months after an electrical fire forced the restaurant to close -- and upended the routines of its many regulars.
Johnson, who ate there with her partner every Friday, said she found out earlier this month that they weren't the only ones who were speculating about the reopening.
At the Buxton Festival of Trees, she said, "it was the only thing that anybody talked about."
Smith said the chatter is much the same among the neighbors on his cul-de-sac.
Judging by the hype, he said, "I'm sure it's going to be packed for a while."
On the restaurant's Facebook page, regulars say they're salivating at the thought of the grilled chicken salad, the veggie grinder, the steak and cheese and, of course, the pizza.
Almost 600 people have "liked" the picture of the new pizza oven that was posted Saturday.
Since the fire, Gorham House of Pizza customers have rallied around its owner, Angelo Sotiropoulos, who has been known for giving back to the community in the three decades he has run the restaurant in the center of town.
That support strengthened when Sotiropoulos, 63, was diagnosed with prostate cancer a week after the fire.
A fundraiser held for the restaurant and its owner in June drew more than 1,000 people to the nearby fieldhouse at the University of Southern Maine and raised over $30,000, most of which went to Sotiropoulos' out-of-work staff.
The next month, Sotiropoulos had surgery for his cancer. He's now free of it, he said.
After all the ups and downs, Sotiropoulos didn't want the restaurant to just pick up where it left off. He wanted it to come back better than ever. He said he spent all of his savings to overhaul the kitchen.
"The oldest thing here is me," he said.
Mid-morning on Monday, he unwrapped a cutting board that had been delivered a few minutes earlier. He wanted to start chopping onions for meatballs, but with the dishwasher being serviced, produce getting dropped off and calls coming in on his cellphone, it wasn't easy for Sotiropoulos to stay on task.
"Everything's running behind, but, you know, I'm ready to go back to work," he said.
The restaurant will have a soft opening Tuesday for people who donated to a new foundation started by Sotiropoulos to raise money for community members who suddenly find themselves in need of help.
Then, on Wednesday, it's back to normal hours.
"Everybody's expecting it will be a lot busier," said Sotiropoulos, who is bringing back his entire staff and hiring a few new workers.
The new furniture for the dining room still hasn't arrived, so customers will have to make do with fold-out tables and chairs for a while.
Sotiropoulos said he doesn't think they'll mind.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:
Gorham House of Pizza
Gorham House of Pizza