Bill Capo / Action Reporter
CHALMETTE, La. -- The insurance claims agents were on hand early Monday at Rocky and Carlo's restaurant in Chalmette. Oily soot covers the walls, floors, tables, chairs, even the bar in the main dining room. There's a stench in the air.
Lou Gioe had to fight back tears.
'I can't talk when I get like this,' he said. 'That's my baby. I still love her. I didn't want to come at first, but I had to come.'
'I thought somebody passed away,' Leonorda Gioe said about receiving the phone call informing her about the fire. 'He said, no, the place got burned. Oh my God! I tell you I got so sick. I couldn't believe it,.'
The owners were told the blaze started in the kitchen when a pile of towels ignited.
It was such a struggle to re-open Rocky and Carlo's after Hurricane Katrina, and now they have to do it again.
'We open in 1965, and never got no fire,' fumed Leonorda. 'We never call the fire department, we never called nothing.'
As shocked as they are by the way this restaurant looks today, their focus now is on the future. They've got to get this mess cleaned up and the damage from the fire repaired in the kitchen, because they're determined to get Rocky & Carlo's reopened as fast as they can.
'It'll take it a little while, no, we'll start it again, take it about two months,' predicted Leonorda. 'Right here they only need a little pressure wash, but in the back, everything is destroyed.'
'Their fried chicken, it's my favorite,' said Gary Okronglis of Ronnie's Electric.
Okronglis is one of the contractors who gathered quickly to assess the work that needs to be done, knowing 86-year-old Leonorda Gioe, who still walks to work, will be pushing them to finish quickly.
'Work as fast as I can,' said Okronglis. 'There'll be some good eating.'
'I hate to see it,' said Lou Gioe, 'but it'll be back, huh Nana?'
'My customers they got to be patient, we're gonna reopen, and we're gonna have a grand reopening again,' confirmed Leonorda Gioe.