If all goes according to Angelo Sotiropoulos’ plan, everything at Gorham House of Pizza will be back to normal in a few months.

But the beloved local businessman has two major hurdles to overcome first: rebuilding the restaurant and beating cancer.

Sotiropoulos, 62, found out that he has prostate cancer last month, a week after an electrical fire in an upstairs apartment forced him to close the restaurant he opened 31 years ago on the first floor of his building in the center of Gorham.

After the fire, Gorham residents immediately rallied around the restaurant owner, whom they described as an always-friendly and generous community man. Sotiropoulos vowed to reopen the popular pizza joint, and his friends and customers organized a fundraiser to help him do that.

“Initially, it was just people’s way of saying thank you,” said Matt Mattingly, one of the organizers of the event, which will be held June 2 at the field house at the University of Southern Maine’s Gorham campus.

But, Mattingly said, the significance of the fundraiser has changed somewhat with the news of Sotiropoulos’ illness. “This is a battle for his life,” he said.

Sotiropoulos doesn’t see it quite that way.

Although his initial prognosis wasn’t good, recent visits to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have been encouraging. The doctors told him that “nothing is 100 percent,” but the cancer is in an early stage and is treatable, he said.

“I’m going to go for treatment, and I’m going to come out brand new,” he said.

Despite the dire turns that his life has taken in recent weeks, Sotiropoulos remains exceedingly optimistic and grateful for the community’s generosity. “It’s an amazing feeling,” he said.

Mattingly said more than 1,000 people are expected to attend the fundraiser, called “Operation GHOP.” From food to entertainment, almost every aspect of the event is being donated — a testament to the impact that Sotiropoulos has had on his community.

University of Southern Maine Athletic Director Al Bean said donating the use of the college’s field house in Gorham for the event was a no-brainer.

“He’s just been an incredibly consistent supporter of our program,” Bean said of Sotiropoulos, who frequently contributed cash and gift certificates to athletic events.

Carter Logan, a Gorham House of Pizza customer and member of the Jerks of Grass, offered to have the local bluegrass band play at the event for free — something that doesn’t happen often.

“We try to make sure when we do do a benefit it’s for a great cause,” he said. This time, Logan said his bandmates were “instantly” on board.

Other donations include event T-shirts that will be for sale, a bounce house for kids, and gift certificates from local businesses that will be auctioned.

There will be no charge to attend the event, “keeping in line with the way Angelo operates,” Mattingly said.

Sotiropoulos, who has health insurance, said any money raised will go to his 15 employees, who will be out of work while the restaurant is being repaired.

He said he has no doubt he will fully recover from the cancer and reopen the restaurant.

When Sotiropoulos talks about what’s happened to him in the past month, he seems much more overwhelmed by the support he’s received than by the challenges he’s facing.

“I feel very lucky,” he said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]