Less than one month after a fire destroyed Augie's Family Style Italian Restaurant in Ballston Spa, the owner is developing a new space. And as YNN's Geoff Redick reports, it is set to reopen next month.
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. -- Starting over is never easy, and it certainly hasn't been for Augie Vitiello.
"You step back sometimes and realize, 'Wow, I haven't seen my kids for more than twenty minutes'," said Augie Vitiello, owner and chef at Augie's Restaurant.
Starting over is vitally important, if Augie wants to continue living his dream of owning an Italian restaurant. That dream was taken from him just weeks ago, when the original Augie's Family Style Italian Restaurant burned down on August 5th.
"We took a big shot there, and it hurt to watch that place burn down," says Augie. The restaurant had stood for ten years on Church Avenue, and was popular with the local community. But the fire, which ignited early in the morning inside the restaurant's basement, gutted the entire facility.
"Every piece of memorabilia on the wall, every pot and pan, photographs and papers, gone," he said. "All that remains now is a giant hole where the foundation stood."
Such a destructive blaze is every small business owner's worst nightmare, and many might have thrown in the towel. However, Vitiello said his responsibility is greater than that.
"The important thing was to find something immediately, that we could open up, and get everyone back to work." Augie remains dedicated to his employees. "It's a piece of income they rely on, and the financial pressure is difficult for everybody."
Augie started an online fundraiser at IndieGogo.com to help his employees while the restaurant was temporarily closed. So far, the campaign has raised more than $15,000.
But Augie never planned on staying closed for long, and recently leased a space on Low Street in Ballston Spa. The former banquet hall is less than a half-mile from the original property, and already contains a full industrial kitchen and bar space.
Augie does share the property and parking lot with a small church, but says it won't bother him.
"Their business on Sunday mornings won't bother us, and we won't bother them because we won't open for customers until 4 p.m.," he says.
Crews are currently painting and repairing the site, and Augie hopes to reopen in the new location by the end of September.
"We're just looking forward to hearing that phone ringing, and emails coming in, and orders starting to come in, and us getting back to work," he says. "And I think with a little hard work, and the support of the community and our friends, we'll be there. It'll be fine."
The new address for Augie's Family Style Italian Restaurant will be 17 Low Street, Ballston Spa, NY.