Iconic restaurant Willie and Red's reopens Thanksgiving Day, 5 months after fire destroyed building

Willie and Red's serves 1,300 customers

HAGERSTOWN, Ind. - More than 1,300 people spent their Thanksgiving celebrating the reopening of landmark Hagerstown restaurant.

Willie and Red’s, formerly known as Wellivers, was destroyed by an electrical fire in June.

"It was a shock," said general manager Brian Ingermann. "It was a surprise."

The landmark restaurant, which has been in business for 60 years, laid out a smorgasbord of more than 250 different things to celebrate the rebirth, including turkey, stuffing, salads, rolls and desserts.

"What better day to open than Thanksgiving," said Gary Frye of Connersville.

People traveled from all over central Indiana to mark the reopening, including Mark Roell, who drove to Wayne County from Indianapolis.

"We’ve been doing it for years," Roell said. "It’s good food."

Owner Penny Wickes said opening on Thanksgiving was kind of an accident.

"I was trying to open in October, then it became the first of November, and then it became Thanksgiving Day," Wickes said. "It means a lot to the community of Hagerstown because it’s a mainstay here."

Workers and patrons agree opening on Thanksgiving is fitting considering the last five months.

"It’s all about getting everybody back in our community for an icon and that’s what Willie and Red’s is," Ingermann said.

"It’s been here forever," Wickes said. "You say you’re from Hagerstown, and everyone says, ‘There’s a smorgasbord there.’"

Willie and Red’s will resume normal business hours on Friday, opening at 4 p.m. The restaurant opens at 4 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.

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