KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – The road to reopening a beloved Kanawha County restaurant is proving to be longer than originally expected.

The Dairy Winkle restaurant was destroyed by a fire in January, but the owner says setbacks in the rebuild may delay their reopening to as late as the first of the new year.

Paco Ellison, the owner of Dairy Winkle, says the rebuild has taken longer than he expected when he started seven months ago.

“When I started here twelve years earlier, we already had floors, walls, and ceilings, and fixtures, plumbing, and electric,” Ellison said. “Now we had to go do all that. We’re not where I was when I came here twelve years ago.”

Ellison cites putting up the drywall as a significant factor in delaying their rebuild. He expected that project to last two weeks, but it went on for three months. He says that came down to limited manpower, only having two volunteers in the building to work on it.

Ellison’s next item on the list is scraping the floors, which he says survived the fire. From there, they plan on painting the interior, hanging up lighting fixtures, and building the counters and bathrooms.

Ellison’s mother, Gail Thigpen, lives next door to the restaurant, and she was also a regular customer at Dairy Winkle. She says that she misses the food.

“It’s nice to be able to run and get an ice cream, and I can’t wait to get back in that kitchen,” Thigpen said.

Ellen Young also lives next door to the restaurant. She says she always used to take her grandchildren to the restaurant before the fire, and says she is excited to take them back as soon as they reopen.

“I was glad he would go ahead and get it back open. But if it takes time, it takes time,” Young said. “I know the grandchildren, as soon as they come they’re going to want to go check it out.”

Ellison says that if construction extends into October or November, he will likely have to pause rebuilding due to cold weather. If that happens, Ellison said he would resume construction when the weather warms up in the spring.

Nonetheless, Ellison urges his customers to be patient, and that he will not rest until Dairy Winkle is reopened at last.

“You can’t make no omelets unless you break some eggs,” Ellison said. “But it’s taking a bunch more eggs than I anticipated. We’re still breaking eggs. Hopefully, it’ll turn into an omelet soon.”