STEPHENS CITY — One day after a fire ravaged the Anthony’s Pizza at 161 Warrior Drive in Stephens City, the restaurant made a simple Facebook post, ending with “We will be back.”
On Monday, nearly 18 months after a 3 a.m. fire caused about $600,000 in damage and forced a total rebuild, Anthony’s is indeed back.
The restaurant will open Monday with special breakfast hours from 6 to 10 a.m., followed with lunch starting at 11 a.m.
The fire brought owner Joseph Amari out of retirement to help his son Felice Amari with the rebuild. Joseph Amari has been in business with Anthony’s for more than 30 years, first starting with the shop when it was on Main Street and later moving it to Warrior Drive in 2012.
The restaurant had become the family’s life.
“It’s kind of like a death,” Joseph Amari said. “Whenever tragedy happens, everything else goes on and you’re at a standstill, and you’re like, ‘Wow, this can actually happen and you can actually lose everything.’ That’s how it felt for me.”
The family decided pretty quickly that they would rebuild. The elder Amari credited the family, especially his wife Amanda, for staying tough during the process and keeping everyone level-headed. He also expressed his thanks for his brother, Thomas Amari, owner of another Anthony’s restaurant and the various other Anthony’s locations for their help.
The new building features tables and booths for seating with a larger kitchen than before. The kitchen is open, too, so customers can see what’s going on. Joseph Amari said they can create about 24 pizzas in 10 minutes now.
The dining rooms are decked out with bigger TVs and will feature display cases to showcase community items, including a Sherando High School football helmet that survived the fire.
The original Anthony’s sign that was outside prior to the fire now hangs inside.
“It’ll feel like opening a brand-new store,” Joseph Amari said. “People will come in that I haven’t seen for a year and a half. Every time I’m outside people are beeping horns and stuff. It’s been a year and a half without seeing your friends and steady customers.”
Food options will remain the same, with the addition of breakfast items such as sandwiches, build-your-own omelets, biscuits and gravy, sides and combos Monday through Friday.
Monday through Wednesday of opening week, the restaurant will sell $5.99 large pizzas.
“We’re not changing anything. It’s going to stay original,” Joseph Amari said. “We’re excited to keep helping the community. We’re Warrior strong.”