NEW ORLEANS -- It's been a New Orleans staple for more than four decades, but in the days following Hurricane Isaac, Fat Harry's suffered a major blow as a fire swept through the old haunt.
"We were one of the first businesses to reopen, and then the fire hit, and it's been devastating,” said Fat Harry’s Owner Deborah Huling. “It's been tough on the customers. It's been very tough on the staff."
But, Huling said she's aiming for a quick comeback for the beloved establishment. Crews were hard at work Saturday night trying to meet an ambitious deadline.
Situated on St. Charles Avenue near Napoleon, Fat Harry's has always enjoyed its prime location, especially during Mardi Gras.
That's why crews are now scrambling to finish before the first parade rolls Uptown.
Contractor Eric Stapper, with River City Construction, gave us a tour inside as the work schedule ramps up.
Stapper said the fire, which is believed to have been ignited due to an electrical problem, forced a total rebuild to the building’s interior.
Once the facility reopens, customers may notice a few changes, but Stapper says a primary goal is to keep its original charm.
"Very adamant, the owners are, of having the bar be welcoming and be traditional as to what Fat Harry's had before the fire," Stapper said.
Stapper said he and the rest of his crew know all about that charm from their own experiences.
"This is kind of our little hangout, where we all go and enjoy time and enjoy a couple of beers after work, and we are probably more motivated than anybody to get this place up and running," he said.
After months of challenges, in just a few weeks the party will continue at Fat Harry's, Huling said.
"I get texts daily -- when's the date, when's the date?” Huling said, referring to inquiries from some of her bar regulars.
Her answer: “Soon, coming soon. The family will be back."
This story was developed with our partners at the Uptown Messenger: www.uptownmessenger.com.