LANSING, Mich. — It didn't take long for people in Mason to rally around the owners of a restaurant that burned two weeks ago.
A sign on the front door of the Mason Depot Diner reads "closed until further notice." Rod and Kathy Hunt used to live above the Mason Depot Diner, now they're temporarily living in a trailer next to it. When the flames engulfed the historic building, it not only destroyed a family's livelihood but also their home.
"My wife had come back from Meijer shopping and smelled smoke and went downstairs, grabbed the hose, tried putting it out and yelled across the street to Davis Automotive to call the fire department," Rod Hunt recalled of July 1st, the day of the fire.
Rod Hunt started cooking in seventh grade in home-EC classes, while his wife, Kathy came from a family of cooks. He said it made sense for them to open the diner 28 years ago, and it quickly became a staple in the town.
"The customers, they come in every day, every weekend, groups, they all treat it us like family."
He says people would yell across the room to each other, like at a family reunion. Regulars also brought in their favorite coffee cup to use every time they ate the food made each day from scratch.
"It's a gathering place for the community. It's kind of been like a child of ours, nurturing it and watching it grow," he said choking up.
Now, there is soot on the tables where food used to be, broken glass on the floor, and caution tape lining the doorways. Hunt says they're assessing the damage and working to reopen.
And members of the community have been pitching in to help.
"It's been overwhelming, amazing. The day after it happened I had people come up to me and give me money to give to the waitresses," he said.
A GoFundMe was also created to help.
Hunt says he appreciates all the support and looks forward to reopening for the community that's helped so much.
"We've had kids grow up here and grand kids work here and our own kids and stuff... it will be a long process but we will get through it, I hope," he said.
There hasn't been a date set for the reopening, but they are working to get there. Right now they are focused on cleaning up.
The building that houses the Mason Depot Diner has an Ingham County historical marker. It was built as a railroad depot in 1902.
If you want to help, you can donate to the GoFundMe here.
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