Grandin Village rallies around Community Inn after 'gut-wrenching' fire

Too soon to give a timeline for reopening

There was a fire at the Community Inn over the weekend. The bar is a local watering hole for Roanokers. 

ROANOKE, Va. – The support is rolling in after a fire partially destroyed a landmark Roanoke bar. 

Walk into the Grandin Village's Community Inn on any given day, and you'll see a mix of people around the same booths. 

But now that's all changed. 

It's still way too early to tell when the bar may reopen. The fire was in the back of the bar and the thick burning smell remains.

While they are shut down, other people are helping them pick up the pieces. 

For Community Inn Co-Owner Mont Morrow and his family, Easter Sunday 2019 may forever go down as one of the worst. 

"It's just gut-wrenching," Morrow said. "I've been coming here since I was nine years old, that's when my parents bought it."

Forty-two years ago, Community Inn began its path to becoming the landmark it is today.

A smoldering butt in the smoking section changed it in mere minutes. 

"It kind of hurts me that people that want to come here aren't going to be able to come here because we can't get open yet," Morrow said. 

But, right around the corner, The Village Grill is open. Owner Nathan Webster says they share customers and now they share pain. 

"Everybody in this village is a family," Webster said. "We like to support each other so we wanted to step up and do the best thing we can to help our neighbors."

A staple CI dish, schoolhouse pizza, is on the menu for $3 at The Village Grill. Sales of this menu item will go to the relief fund.

Community Inn bartenders are mixing drinks, too. 

This is the time when a neighborhood comes together. Absolutely hated hearing about the fire at Community Inn last night...

Posted by Nathan Webster on Sunday, April 21, 2019

"I want people to be able to come in and talk to the bartenders that they miss up there, see them, let them know that they're OK, you know, being able to support them, let them know that they love them," Webster said. 

Over 42 years, there are some things that can't be replaced. While they will rebuild, that's what hurts Morrow the most. 

"A lot of stuff back there, staples are gone now, and we're hoping to get it back open as good as new."

A GoFundMe has pulled over $6,000 on its way to a $50,000 goal. The creator of the fund, family friend Tony Pearman, is stepping in where he can.

"They've never asked anybody for help and they would never do that, so I just thought it was important to step up because I know a lot of people want to help and I just want to give them an opportunity to do that," Pearman said. 

Most places in Virginia, you can't smoke inside, but Community Inn was one of the those few places where you could. With a fire caused by smoking, it begs the question, will they allow smoking going forward? The owners said they haven't made up their minds yet.