Friends Of Fred's Inn

By Kelly McCarthy

October 15, 2012 Updated Oct 16, 2012 at 10:03 AM EDT

Norwich, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A fire forced a well known restaurant in Chenango County to close its doors. Fred's Inn has been in business in Norwich since the 1940s.

A Fred's chef of nine years says he feels numb, that there's no other way to describe the feeling of not being at work on Monday.

He's worried about what will happen to the restaurant because it was his livelihood. And in a way, part of the community's livelihood.

Families in the Norwich area remember Fred's Inn for its Sunday brunch specials and as a place that feels like home.

For now, the Inn will remain closed while the current owners figure out what to do. But it's still the talk of the town.

Everyone's wondering if the owners will choose to re-open and continue to add to an already extensive history.

"It's the greatest steakhouse there's no doubt about it and it's a tragedy," said Harold Jenkins, of Norwich.

The day after a fire caused the popular restaurant to close its doors, the entire town shared a similar feeling.

"It's been very somber today and there's been a lot of people who are just really lost," said Melissa Bresee, of Oxford.

Fred's Inn has been a staple of the area. Where people go for a good steak and a friendly face.

"Everyone knows my name and to be honest sometimes I even get a hug," said Dale Leach, of Oxford.

"We had our high school reunion there, so we had a nice time for that. I think everyone in the area has really good memories from Fred's."

Caution tape blocks the entrance to a building now with boarded up windows and not a single light on inside.

"I hope they're not so down-trodded that they don't want to come back, because we sure do need a place like that. So I'm sure they'll come back," Jenkins said. .

"They'll be back definitely. They'll be back for sure," Bresee said.

Until then, the familiar faces must find another seat to keep warm.

The same people own the Park Place restaurant and lounge down the street.

"We had almost the entire staff here today for lunch," said Bresee.

"If indeed we felt like we wanted to have another chance, we might try that one."

The Park Place has taken on some of the reservations at Fred's Inn for the time being.

The original structure of Fred's Inn is not damaged.

The motel behind the restaurant is also still up and running.