Story by Antwan Harris

Eyewitness News Reporter

MCMINN COUNTY (WRCB)-- We're following up on a fire that destroyed a McMinn County landmark.

It's been one month since the Country Patch Restaurant caught fire during the lunch hour.

The owners tell me they're optimistic about re-opening in the coming months.

They took us inside the burned-out restaurant to show us the damage first hand.

Deborah Gunn says the scene serves as a reminder of what she worked so hard for, for 18 years, but lost in a matter of minutes.

"Up here is where I saw smoke and I ran out screaming. All I can do was just scream and had to make sure everybody was out," says Deborah Gunn.

Fire investigators say the blaze started in the attic due to electrical problems. Jimmy Gunn says he was in the kitchen when the fire broke out. Smoke was billowing from the roof as he tried to get employees and customers out of the building.

 "I heard smoke and saw it billowing and I said to my employees, ‘let's go, let's get out'," says Jimmy Gunn.

Deborah Gunn says many of her customers were more like family. She says personal memories like cooking meals for those with special medical requirements or talking one-on-one with someone having a bad day, have helped her get through the past month.

"People have given me things to put on the wall. I hope I can get those memories back on that wall," says Deborah.

Jimmy Gunn says he can't wait for the day to re-open the doors for business.

Until then, he hopes his customers will stand behind him and the promise written on the sign in front.

"We miss it a whole lot. I miss the people a great deal. It is like your family is just gone. It is hard and we are working just as hard to get it back," says Jimmy.

The Gunns hope to build the new restaurant with steel beams.

That will help the building be more resistant to fire.

They hope to re-open by January.