KENNER, La. — Just over 48-hours since Gendusa's Italian Market caught fire, the owner began getting ready to welcome back customers.
On Thursday dinner will be served in a makeshift location nearby. Eyewitness News spoke with the owner who said it's the community who's helping him through this tough time.
The loss of Gendusa's Italian Market is being felt by many.
"I made it ten feet in, but the smoke was so thick. I couldn't see my face," said owner Troy Gendusa.
Gendusa was there as crews battled Tuesday's blaze. He watched as the flames turned years of memories into ash.
"It was killing me," he said. "It was my dream. That's why I'm here, people say you're not in the business unless you love it. It's like a second marriage."
Gendusa was able to go inside after the fire to see if anything could be salvaged. He says three items were untouched by the blaze: a St. Joseph statue, the very first dollar bill spent at the restaurant, and a St. Joseph prayer card. Everything else inside was torched.
Gendusa's not letting this fire stop him, because thanks to donations from the community as well as local restaurants, he'll be serving dinner again, starting Thursday. He's expected to serve hundreds, and all proceeds will help him rebuild his restaurant.
"The outpouring is mind-boggling," he said. "Totally mind-boggling, people I don't even do business with giving me stuff."
From spices to this portable 53-foot long industrial size kitchen, donations have been pouring in, leaving a man usually filled with words, speechless.
"This was my life my dreams," he said fighting back tears. "We're going to get through it, we're going to get through it."
And as he prepares for Thursday's customers, he's asking for patience.
"This is my passion, my whole life is in this, I'm not going to let this go to waste, I'm going to be back on my feet, I don't know how long it's going to take," he said.
And he thanks everyone for their support in helping keep this Kenner staple alive.
Gendusa's will be run in the outdoor parking lot across from its original location indefinitely. He will continue serving meals and asks people to reach out on social media, especially their Facebook page. There, they can make reservations.
In addition to the outdoor, tented (and air-conditioned) seating, the side building can also be used since it wasn't affected by the fire. Customers should make reservations whether you eat at the location or get your meal to go.