FAIRMONT — The Poky Dot, an iconic local business, is reeling from a devastating fire early Friday.
According to Marion County 911, the call for the fire came in at 5:03 a.m. Friday. Alyssa Caputo, operator of the business, said it “appears to be electrical.”
“We were having renovations done,” Caputo said. “In the area where the renovations were being done, there was believed to be (an) electrical fire.”
Caputo said the fire was in the back area of the restaurant, which experienced the brunt of the damage, which she described as “extensive.”
“The back is...terrible,” she said, her voice choked with emotion. “The rest of the restaurant has heavy extensive smoke (damage).”
She said the state fire marshal is in the midst of investigating the cause, and once that is complete, commercial cleaners will be brought in to get things back in shape.
She said the fire has been “total devastation” for her personally, but she said it’s also been heartbreaking for the many employees.
“Most of them have been here every day, even though they don’t have access inside,” she said.
She said the close-knit group of workers – most of them young adults – have come together in the wake of the fire.
“I think they just want to be here,” she said. “A lot of these kids grew up in here, and they’ve been working here for years, so even if they’re 20, they’ve been here for two, three years, and it’s just what they do. They wake up, come to Poky. They’re heartbroken.”
One employee, Andrea Oliverio, a server and assistant manager, recalled her reaction when she first learned of the fire.
“I didn’t want to believe it was true,” she said, describing the fire as “overwhelming” and “unexpected.”
“I got in my car and came right here as soon as I heard,” she said.
But she promised, “We will be back. Back better than ever.”
“It’s just going to be a little road to haul and get ourselves back together.”
Another employee, Reese Jones, who does everything from cooking to serving to cleaning and bussing, said he hated to see the business damaged by the fire.
He said he was giving support to the other employees, which he called “my Poky family.”
Noting the employees’ close ties, he said, “that’s what makes this place so iconic.”
“We’re a team here,” he said. “We can’t have a successful restaurant without having a successful team, right?”
Caputo said a lot of people in the community as well as businesses have reached out to the Poky Dot, sending messages or stopping by.
Despite the fire, Caputo remains committed to seeing the business get back on its feet.
“We’ll focus up, stay on top of this, and get back to big burgers, big breakfasts, big milkshakes as soon as we can,” she said.