THORNVILLE, Ohio (WCMH) – After an overnight kitchen fire, a popular Central Ohio destination will likely have to shut down during its busiest months.
Fire crews responded to Buckeye Lake Winery, located in Thornville on the south side of the lake, around 12:45 a.m. Friday morning.
“As they pulled back in close to the building, the window in the front of the building broke out and fire started rolling out of the window,” said Chief Robert Price of the Walnut Township Fire Department.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire within a half hour and keep it from spreading to most of the building.
“They had some good fire stops between the kitchen and the rest of the restaurant. It pretty much-incinerated everything in the kitchen and didn’t make it into the rest of the restaurant or his office,” the chief explained.
Price, a longtime resident, said his heart sank knowing the kitchen damage would likely keep the local business from opening during the busy summer months. Many owners were just starting to recoup losses incurred during the pandemic.
“It is a double blow,” Price said. “People are finally getting out and he’s not going to be able to do the business like he had planned on.”
Rita Mohler, a Millersport neighbor, said although she’s not a wine drinker she and others frequent the lakeside spot during the summer months.
“People love to just socialize there,” she said. “It’s just a nice place and I’m so sad for them because if they’re going to have to close down the kitchen this summer, that’s going to kill them. It really is.”
The winery’s owner declined an on-camera interview but told NBC4 he expects to shut down the business for 3-4 months for repairs. The winery, which boasts a large patio backing up to a boat dock and hosts numerous summer weddings and events, makes two-thirds of its profits between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.
“He was finally looking forward to a great year, I think just like the rest of us are, and then this happens,” Chief Price said.
By Friday afternoon, the Buckeye Lake area business community was showing online support for Buckeye Lake Winery. Some were encouraging people to purchase digital gift cards.
“As far as that goes, it’s a pretty tight-knit community,” Chief Price said of the area businesses. “It’s going to take a little bit to rebound, but I have no doubt he’ll get back to it.”
Fire investigators are still looking into the cause of the fire. Inspectors and electricians were on scene Friday to investigate.