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The Suburbanite
  • After the Headlines — Perry plaza bounces back from fire

  • Most of the businesses in a Lincoln Way E shopping strip reopened by March after a December 2009 fire, but the EuroGyro restaurant didn’t reopen until October.

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  • When Perry Tanning & Sportswear reopened on Lincoln Way E in March, the owners of the strip center and EuroGyro restaurant were hoping to reopen quickly afterward.
    A fire three months before began on the roof of EuroGyro, and the restaurant was all but gutted only a few months after it opened. Winter weather held up reconstruction of the roof until the end of February, and owners Walter Alabakovski, 60, and his brother-in-law, George Istocki, 52, didn’t reopen until October.
    These days, the brothers-in-law are hoping the new year will bring with it renewed business.
    “Business is slow,” Istocki explained. “I don’t know if it’s the weather, the economy or the holidays. We’re just kind of  hoping after the first of the year” that things will improve. “We believe in our menu.”
    The strip plaza in the 4000 block of Lincoln Way has undergone a lot of changes since the two bought it in 1979. There was a Dairy Mart where EuroGyro is, and a Roy Rogers restaurant where El Campesino is now.
    They built the strip up from Dairy Mart, adding two spaces on the west end and two on the east, enlarging the Roy Rogers building so it could become the popular Mexican restaurant.
    In all, they added more than 12,000 square feet. Fire damage to the entire strip was estimated at about $450,000.
    AFTER THE FIRE
    Damage to EuroGyro came to about $300,000, which was covered by insurance, Istocki said. No official cause was determined, but he believes the fire started on the roof with a furnace or electrical problem.
    The dining room was destroyed; the kitchen fared better. “The equipment being stainless, it took a lot of the water,” Istocki said. “The stainless table we were able to keep.”
    Alabakovski said they were able to fix walk-in coolers by installing new motors, but they lost the oven.
    Along with repairing the roof, they redid some of the visible parts of the plaza to make it look uniform. The layout of EuroGyro is pretty similar to the original, with a 12-foot ceiling (instead of a drop ceiling) being the biggest change, Istocki said.
    Tracey Maier, owner of Perry Tanning & Sportswear, estimated the fire damage to her business at $90,000 to $95,000, which includes loss of income. All was covered by insurance. The Perry sportswear she stocks and her tanning beds were destroyed in the fire, and the business was heavily damaged by water and smoke.
    Others businesses reopened more quickly. Double Take Hair Design, separated from EuroGyro by Perry Tanning, was closed for about a week. The Endzone West bar opened about two weeks before Perry Tanning. The bar was heavily damaged by water, which leaked down from another business, Internet Connection.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Internet Connection also reopened quickly after the fire. El Campesino restaurant was not affected by the blaze.  
    BETTING ON BUSINESS
    The brothers-in-law own eight area EuroGyros, including stores in Canton, Hartville, Green and Mogadore.
    “Some (stores) are doing good,” said Istocki, such as the ones near the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Kent State University’s main campus and the store near the University of Akron. “They seem to be better,” he added.
    Istocki’s sister, Nada, is married to Alabakovski. They’re from Macedonia, a neighbor of Greece, where gyros originated. Most Macedonians are familiar with the dish, Alabakovski explained.
    When the chain began in 1979, Istocki thought centering the menu on gyros was a good bet.
    “I thought it would be a good seller,” he said. “So I went for it.”