Moon Garden restaurant owners hope to reopen

By Ben Garbarek - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A popular restaurant in eastern Henrico, burned to the ground over the weekend and now many people are wondering if The Moon Garden Chinese Restaurant on Williamsburg Road, will ever open its doors again.

The family that ran The Moon Garden says right now they are busy dealing with insurance issues after the fire, but they do plan to at least try to reopen their popular restaurant.

That's music to the ears of many people in Henrico's East End. The Moon Garden was more than just a restaurant for a lot of people in Henrico -- it was a landmark.

Sherri Rowe stopped by to see the damage for herself after a fire ripped through the well-liked restaurant early Sunday. She went on dates there in high school and ate there every week.

"You was always going to see someone you knew here," she said.  "It was just a fun place to come. We knew the owners, and it was just a fun place and it's just devastating. It's like part of our life is just gone."

There was a steady stream of cars slowing down to gaze at what's left of the restaurant. Others got out of their car to take a picture. Bud Brinkley was one of those people. He says it's hard not to get emotional staring at the rubble.

"I was really stunned," Brinkley said.  "It's been a landmark here for over 33 years. The best, in my opinion, Chinese food in the area.

He's been eating there since The Moon Garden opened in 1977. He says he sees a lot of memories in the charred remains.

"I see a lot of history gone up in smoke," he said.  "It's a terrible loss and I don't know if we'll ever be able to recoup it if they don't reopen."

The family says it's too early to say if they will officially reopen or how soon that could happen.

Debbie Funai admits The Moon Garden wasn't much to look at, but that never made her love the restaurant any less.

"It might not have been the most fanciest place, but they always made you feel welcome here," Funai said.  "The atmosphere was great. A lot of good people gathered around the tables here."

Fortunately no one was injured in the fire, but the building is a total loss. Firefighters are still investigating what started the blaze.

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