ROMEO, Mich. – A diner in the heart of Downtown Romeo was forced to close its doors for the next several weeks after a kitchen fire.
The fire happened at Four Corners Diner on East Saint Clair Street, also known as 32 Mile Road.
The owners said last Thursday, the fire started in the kitchen, and now they’re forced to close for about two months. Now, the community is rallying around the small business to help it reopen quickly.
“Struggling to get through the pandemic,” said Four Corners Diner Co-Owner Marty Hutnick. “We get through there, and then something like this happens.”
Customers refer to the diner as a Romeo staple.
“I come Wednesday for the mushroom soup, Friday for the clam chowder, and Thursday for the potato soup,” said one customer.
“It’s the meeting place,” said MJC Marketplace Owner Kathy Osebold. “It’s the place you come to when you’re happy. It’s the place where you come when you’re sad.”
Now, when people show up, they find a boarded up door, large signs and Hutnick there to explain what happened. She says after closing last Thursday night, she got a call from the business next door saying they saw smoke.
“It was black smoke coming from the roof and through her exhaust,” Hutnick said.
Firefighters got to the diner and were able to put the fire out rather quickly, but the damage was already done.
“Each stove has to be replaced, and we have three stoves,” Hutnick said.
The owners of the diner still have more assessing to do. The diner was insured.
“I found out yesterday that it is not 100% coverage; the employees will be paid and we do have loss of wages, you know interruption service, but as far as the equipment, It’s not covered 100%,” said Hutnick.
While the owners clean up, customers and other business owners like Osebold find ways to help.
“I really thought what can I do immediately to help get some money and that was like, well I can sell her gift certificates, and that way, there’s some income coming in for her,” Osebold said. “So I started that right away, and people were just like, ‘oh here,’ (they were) just giving me money. They didn’t even want the gift certificate.”
Some people just wanted to show their support, like this handwritten letter from a young customer eager for the diner to reopen.
“Our sweet Macy,” Hutnick said. “She comes in every weekend with her dad, and we just love her to death, and that letter touched all of our hearts. It was the sweetest letter.”
That letter and the outpouring support the diner has received over the last week speaks to what Hutnick said the Romeo community is all about.
“It’s just been amazing,” Hutnick said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
This fire comes just weeks before the Peach Festival, the diner’s busiest weekend of the year. The community plans to raffle major items to fundraise for Four Corners Diner during the festival in the backlot of MJC Marketplace.