A rebuilt Stoby’s is still at least seven months away, owner David Stobaugh said last week. “We’re looking at early spring” before the landmark Conway restaurant can be up and running again.
A March fire put Stoby’s out of business, at least at that location. David and his wife, Patti, Stoby’s co-owner, decided to raze the old fire-ravaged house that was home to the restaurant and rebuild in the same location, 805 Donaghey Ave. But in the meantime, they opened a temporary location offering to-go service that they dubbed Stoby’s Express, at 1310 Prince St.
And Stoby’s Express has been something of a revelation to David Stobaugh. Even with strictly to-go orders, limited hours and a limited menu, business has been brisk. Breakfast was added last week.
“We’ve got a lot of people that are encouraging us to keep that open even after we open the other one,” he said. “The logistics on that employee-wise would be a little tricky, because the insurance company paid everybody for 60 days and my core group of people for a year, so I’ve got that core group of people that are over there working, and of course I’m going to want to take them back to the restaurant when it reopens.”
As for building the new, improved Stoby’s, “we’re inching along, making slow progress,” Stobaugh said. The rebuilt restaurant will be much larger, about 4,200 SF compared with 1,375 SF, and will have twice as much seating, with room for about 128 diners.
In addition, they’re razing the house next door, just north of the old Stoby’s and which the Stobaughs also own, to create 50 parking spaces.
“The vision is to put a building back there that looks like Stoby’s did before but looks like it was added onto,” he said.
NBMC of Greenbrier is the general contractor on the Stoby’s project, which Stobaugh estimated would come in at “north of $1 million.”
Business at Stoby’s Express has been so good that he thought about just opening two more Express sites, which would have required a lot less than $1 million, instead of putting that money into rebuilding Stoby’s. But Conway, to “an amazing degree,” has adopted Stoby’s, Stobaugh said, and its destruction by fire created a feeling of loss. “I think it really was an important part of the community, and I think we feel a responsibility to put it back for Conway as well as for ourselves,” Stobaugh said.
Still, he thinks Stoby’s Express locations could work in east Conway and Greenbrier. And as for the wait time for the rebuilt Stoby’s Restaurant, “I’ve decided I’m going to use the Apple marketing program, which is anticipation.”