Owner Of Fire-Gutted Restaurant Vows To Rebuild

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KINGSLEY -- There's not much left of Jenny Leigh's Country Cookin'. Customers had been coming here for decades and the restaurant was a labor of love for the owner and her staff.

While fire destroyed it all early Tuesday morning, it doesn't mean the owner is giving up.

There was little firefighters could do to stop this raging fire from reducing the landmark restaurant in Kingsley to smoldering rubble.

Jenny Leigh's Country Cookin' was only two hours from opening for breakfast when it caught fire.

After the firefighters left and utility crews went to work, longtime customers came to console owner Jenny Payne with hugs and encouragement.

"It's nice to feel loved. I love them all, too. We all belong together. We belong in this restaurant together. That's why we're together," Payne said.

Both employees and customers say Jenny deserves a lot of credit for making the restaurant a success. Photos from Facebook show some of the regulars here.

"Everybody loves it here, same customers, you know?" said employee Christen Penny.

Paul Henry has been coming here for near 60 years. He wants to remember the place the way it was, not filled with flames and smoke.

"I saw the picture on TV, or on the computer, I cried. I cried," Henry said. "Jenny has put an awful a lot of money into what she had; now she has to do it all over again."

That's exactly what Jenny intends to do with her restaurant: rebuild.

After all, she worked for previous owners, then rented it from them, even lived in the basement, then finally bought the place 15 years ago.

"I'm kind of in shock. I'll probably be bawling my eyes out tomorrow or tonight or maybe a week from now. I'm super-optimistic though, because I just know I belong here."

State police say there was too much damage to determine what may have caused the fire, but it's not suspicious.

Ten employees will have to find other work until Jenny rebuilds and reopens on the same spot

She has insurance and already has an idea of what she wants in her new restaurant.