Posted on August 13, 2013 at 6:30 PM
Tuesday, Aug 13 at 6:41 PM
Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: email@example.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl
MADISONVILLE- Investigators are still looking into what, and possibly who, caused the fire at ‘Friends’ restaurant in Madisonville. At the same time, the owner is having a change of heart about the popular eatery’s future.
Four months ago, the future of the Hurricane Isaac-damaged Friends restaurant was triple the size and re-named The Lighthouse. Tuesday, the plans for the restaurant along the Tchefuncte River is scaled down and still called Friends.
Owner Ryan Richard said, "We have been inspired this whole time to realize what Friends meant to Madisonville since its been closed. It has been a very humbling experience to go through."
Richard told Eyewitness News in April about his plans to end the frequent flooding at the popular venue by elevating, expanding and re-branding his business by Spring 2014. But over time, and now after a fire hours before a planned demolition of the shuttered building, which authorities call suspcious, Richard says support from so many has changed his heart.
"After really thinking it through hard, we realized that Friends needs to be in Madisonville forever,” he said, “So we decided to scrap the plans for The Lighthouse and make it a restaurant more like ‘Friends’ was and all it ever could be."
And in ten months, Richard expects the memory of the flood and fire to fade behind all of the new memories to come.
"We're going to have great food, great atmospherem but the view of that river is what brings people back year after year,” he said.
The owner plans to run a coffee house and bed and breakfast alongside the new Friends. The coffee shop is set to open on Aug. 29, the same day the Friends groundbreaking is scheduled. That is also the one year anniversary of Isaac flooding the restaurant.
Investigators spent Tuesday doing more interviews and research into what led to the fire Sunday. Test results from suspicious findings on the scene were still pending.
Local fire districts in St. Tammany and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are on the case.