GATLINBURG, Tenn. (WATE) – A landmark Gatlinburg business has been reborn from the ashes. Just over 10 months have passed since the deadly wildfires in Sevier County, and the ruins of the Alamo Steakhouse will still smoldering when the media was allowed into the area.
The groundbreaking was held in April where the owners said they wanted to open in time for visitors who come to town for fall leaves. Those hopes became reality on Monday morning.
“We were here for 17 years and we have a lot of customers who come at the same time they take the same Gatlinburg vacation,” said owner Kelly Johnson.
Johnson described the effort to reopen in such a short time frame as bordering on insanity. They had originally eyed January 2018, but when they got into the process, that just seemed too far away.
“Every day it wasn’t open, it was sad. You know, you remember every day, and so the quicker we could do it the better we all would feel,” Johnson said.
The reopening also reunites the Alamo’s staff. None were lost or lost family members in the fire, and all but three were back at work at the Alamo on Monday.
“We wanted them to be back together. They were split up at other stores and they missed each other, so it’s nice to reconnect and move forward,” Johnson said.
“It’s awesome to be back here with everybody,” said supervisor Ashley Williams. “I worked for one of our other restaurants, you know, during the building of this place and almost every single person that came here came there… told me every day, ‘I’m so excited. I can’t wait to be back.’ And you know they had told me they had come here for their wedding anniversary or you know their honeymoon.”
The restaurant looks essentially the same from the outside. The decor is Western, as before, but it’s now a one-story setup with a few tweaks on the layout. The menu also remains the same.
“Why would we change the menu? That would be silly,” said Johnson. “Same management team, same smiling servers, all of those those sort of those things were important to us also.”
The ducks are also back and the Alamo is putting in a duck feeder so customers can visit with them when they come by.