Community vigil to rebuild landmark Austell restaurant after fire

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Employees, customers and friends gathered at Dolly's Farmhouse Restaurant in Austell Sunday to pray they'll one day be able to rebuild the landmark restaurant.

Dolly's opened in 1983, and current owner Tony Ashcraft bought the restaurant in 2015. He's hoping to preserve the community staple that was destroyed on a fire earlier this month.

"I've been a chef for 35 years, but I've never owned a restaurant," Ashcraft said. "I've always wanted to, and three years ago I was afforded this opportunity, and it's heartbreaking it's not here anymore, but I know it's only temporary."

Ashcraft's employees say this is a family restaurant, and a place everyone can call home. Not being able to work has been not only a financial strain but it's emotionally tough as well.

"I get up at quarter to 5 to get ready for work, but there's nowhere to go," said server Stacy Wingard. "In a couple months we'll be back and better than ever."

Customer Ernest Walker's wife's family built the restaurant, and he's gotten breakfast at Dolly's regularly for decades.

"I eat breakfast here just about every morning, and I miss that," said Walker. "When this is open, I'll be back again."

RELATED: Landmark Austell restaurant damaged by fire

"Our customers are family as well," said cook Elizabeth Bucy. "We cater to them as if they're our mothers and fathers and grandfathers, and we all miss them as they miss us."

Ashcraft said that insurance will not cover the entire rebuild, so they're hoping the community will come together to help bring Dolly's back.

If you'd like to help rebuild Dolly's Farmhouse Restaurant, click here.