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Now shuttered OakFire BBQ may reopen in new year

Business
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After reopening two months ago and trying out a couple of dining formats, the OakFire BBQ restaurant has closed at least through the end of the year. Operating Manager Pablo Chichoni explained that insurance payment delays were to blame for the decision Monday to close. The Highway 49 restaurant, previously owned by Teresa and Frank Welch, was shuttered in June following an electrical panel fire. Teresa Welch brought in Chichoni and a third business partner, Bob Rivard, to reopen in early October. At that time, they switched from table service to quick-service for a few weeks. Although it allowed them to lower menu prices, the concept did not catch on with customers. “A survey of residents showed they preferred table service,” Chichoni said. OakFire BBQ management had just made the change back to full-service. The restaurant also featured weekend entertainment and a sports-bar format. In an e-mail to the Journal Tuesday, Chichoni said the restaurant was unable to offer some of its popular menu items because of fire damage to specialty equipment. “We hope we will be able to reopen soon and continue with what this great team has been able to accomplish in the short time since we reopened,” he said. Chichoni said he is looking for investors and hopes to have the eatery up and running again soon. ~ Gloria Young