Last updated: February 16. 2013 10:01PM - 625 Views

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EXETER ‚?? After a fire heavily damaged her Grico‚??s restaurant building on Wyoming Avenue last year, 65-year-old Pat Greenfield thought about retiring.

But Greenfield said she decided to rebuild the landmark eatery because ‚??so many customers and friends have encouraged me to come back,‚?Ě Greenfield said Tuesday. ‚??That means a lot to me.‚?Ě

She plans to reopen in January.

As you walk through the ongoing renovation project, you can still smell the fire. But Greenfield said that will soon be gone.

‚??And as soon as we open, the garlic will take care of that,‚?Ě she said with a chuckle.

Greenfield said many people ask her if the bar and the private dining booths with curtains will again be part of the décor.

‚??Yes to both of those questions,‚?Ě she said. ‚??We have expanded our dining areas to allow for more room for larger parties, but we will retain the things that made Grico‚??s unique.‚?Ě

Seating capacity will be 110 to 120, she said.

And the remodeling has revealed a few aesthetics that will give the restaurant a ‚??softer‚?Ě dining environment. For example, workers uncovered a brick wall and some glass blocks that will be exposed and refurbished.

Greenfield vividly remembers the night the building caught fire.

Firefighters rescued her from a second-floor porch off her apartment above the restaurant in the early morning hours Aug. 26, 2011. Since then, the process of rebuilding has slowly moved forward and now construction is in full operation.

Greenfield said the decision to come back didn‚??t require a lot of thought.

‚??It just happened,‚?Ě she said. ‚??I‚??ve been busy with my catering business, but I‚??m looking forward to reopening the restaurant.

‚??Some days I‚??m thrilled; some days I think I‚??m crazy,‚?Ě Greenfield said. ‚??It‚??s been a difficult, difficult year.‚?Ě

She hasn‚??t planned her menu yet, but customers will surely be able to choose from their past favorites.

Greenfield has owned the restaurant that first opened in 1935 for 27 years. She notes other family-owned ‚??mom-and-pop‚?Ě restaurants have closed, like Hottle‚??s in Wilkes-Barre.

‚??The economy has had an effect,‚?Ě she said. ‚??A lot of people go to the chain restaurants.‚?Ě

Greenfield was busy over the Labor Day weekend at her at La Festa Italiana stand in Scranton.

‚??We worked three 20-hour days,‚?Ě she said. ‚??We had to prepare, sell and clean up every day.‚?Ě

Greenfield said most of her 20 or so Grico‚??s employees are coming back. She said she may have to hire a few new people.

She was voted ‚??Best Chef‚?Ě by an area publication in 2008, and her tomato sauce won the ‚??Sauce Wars‚?Ě at the Pittston Tomato Festival in 2009.

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