Businesses return to Chimney Rock Village after wildfire evacuation lifted

Businesses in Chimney Rock Village are back open after evacuation notices were lifted. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Businesses in Chimney Rock Village are back open after evacuation notices were lifted.

RELATED | Rumbling Bald Resort Area open at noon, pre-evacuation notice canceled

"When can we come? When can we come? That's all my phone calls and texts have been, and everybody's just excited to be back at work," Michelle Banz, the owner of River Watch Waterfront Bar & Grill, said.

She said she's owned the restaurant for 20 years and has never been closed for this long.

"Bills were still coming in and expected to be paid and nothing, no money was coming in. So, that's when you have to start reaching into the savings and start pulling out," Banz said.

RELATED | Containment lines hold in Party Rock fire, public can return to Chimney Rock Village

The employees who missed worked for nearly two weeks are also feeling the pinch.

"Missing a whole check, going on two checks," cook Jessica Skipper said.

Banz is hopeful now they're back open, things will begin to turn around.

"We'll get through this," she said.

For fellow business owner Patsy Cook, it's a familiar struggle.

"I want to give these people business. We help each other out," she said.

It's one of the reasons she came to the restaurant with a friend.

While Monday's opening was the first time for the community to visit the restaurant, Banz returned when the evacuation order on business owners was lifted.

She was impressed with the effort pouring into the area to keep everyone safe.

"Just a great big thank you to everyone that donated their time and all the firefighters and volunteers that helped feed the firefighters. It's a community that really came together," said Banz.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off