GAHANNA, Ohio (WCMH) — Owners of a southwest Florida restaurant with roots in central Ohio are trying to figure out their next steps after Hurricane Ian destroyed their pizza place.
Jackie and Greg Chapin grew up in Gahanna and own Gatsby’s Pizza in Bonita Springs, Florida. It’s known as a Buckeye gathering spot there.
“The restaurant was totally underwater and totally destroyed and this was our only income,” said Jackie Chapin.
Ever since the water receded, she’s been going to the restaurant to see what she can salvage. Decades of memories and hard work are in the debris. They’ve owned Gatsby’s in Florida on and off since 2003.
Greg’s battled health issues since 2010 and has been in the hospital for the past month so he’s been unable to see the restaurant.
“He still doesn’t understand how bad it is but he’s starting to, and he just started crying,” said Chapin. “He just burst out in tears, he’s like I had 40 years, 40 years of my life I put into this business, and he just can’t believe it’s gone.”
Greg first opened Gatsby’s in Gahanna in the late 1970s. The Chapins sold it about 20 years later before moving to Florida. They sold it to Doug Vance who at the time was one of their bartenders. Many patrons of Gatsby’s in Gahanna make it a point to go to the Chapins’ Gatsby’s in Florida.
“These are friends of ours, these are our co-workers, i worked alongside these people that have this business and I want to help them,” said Vance who co-owns the Gahanna restaurant with his wife, Gina.
Over the years, the Chapins and Vances have remained good friends. Vance said Gatsby’s Bar and Grill will be fundraising for Gatsby’s Pizza with a portion of pizza sales supporting the Chapins.
“It’s not much but it’s a little bit we can do and if everybody rallies together, we can beat this,” said Vance.
The future of Gatsby’s Pizza is uncertain, according to Chapin. Whether they reopen or not, she hopes to keep in touch with the customers.
“This was our livelihood and it was his life. He just looked so forward to coming here every day just to talk to people, people looked forward to seeing him. We’re going to miss our customers very much in this place,” she said.
Family members have started a fundraiser for the Chapins. If you want to help, it can be found here.