After sustaining damage from a kitchen fire in May, T.J. Willie's plans to host an open house Thursday as the restaurant finishes preparations to reopen.
Doug Dunlap, owner of T.J. Willie's, said returning customers will experience a restaurant that is "the same, but different."
While the basic floor plan is the same, he said, small changes to the layout and a number of aesthetic changes will be revealed when the restaurant opens.
The carousel horses will remain part of T. J. Willie’s decor.
The bar and waiting areas, Dunlap said, have been expanded, and the deli area of the restaurant has been eliminated to allow for more interior space. The menu board, which was located near the entrance, has been replaced by a mounted electronic menu screen, he said, which allows for a more convenient and thorough presentation of menu and special items.
Dunlap said while some of the restaurant's decorative items were salvaged from the fire, such as the carousel horses and antique light fixtures, a new color scheme can be seen throughout the restaurant and banquet room areas, which he said offers a "crisper" look. Plus, seven 42-inch televisions have been added throughout the lounge area and patio.
Customers, Dunlap said, "still have comfort here."
The restaurant's foyer, he said, now has a different look, and the menu has been revised and reprinted for new, fresh choices. While a few items were deleted from the menu, Dunlap said, new options, including dishes with southwest flavors, salads and pastas, have been added. Also, a portobello sandwich and new chicken dishes now will be available.
The great plates and early fare menus will continue to be offered at T.J. Willie's, he said, after the restaurant has been open for a few weeks.
Dunlap said a large percentage of the T. J. Willie's crew will be returning to work when the restaurant reopens, and some new staff members also have been hired. He said it likely will take some time for staff to adjust to the changes T.J. Willie's, but within a few weeks, customers will experience the "smoothness of operation" to which they are accustomed at the restaurant, and "service and quality food" will continue to be a high priority.
An "insane amount of work" has gone into the remodel and restoration of T.J. Willie's, Dunlap said, and an opening date has been set for Oct. 21, pending final inspections.
The open house, he said, will be 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday and will offer hors d'oeuvres and light beverages.
Dunlap said the event will allow the public to "look the place over" before T.J. Willie's begins serving the community again with a style that is "the same, but different."