Middleburg, FL

Grumpy's Middleburg restaurant pushes back reopening plans after January fire

Don Johnson

Damaged by fire in January, Grumpy’s restaurant in Middleburg had hoped to reopen this month, but that date has been pushed back to October, according to Daniel DeLeon, president and CEO of Grumpy's Restaurant.

The Middleburg diner, which opened in October 2020 at 1805 Blanding Blvd. was Grumpy’s first franchise restaurant. The original Grumpy’s is located in Orange Park.

DeLeon said in February that the plan was to reopen to customers by May, but now the grand reopening will occur on Oct. 10.

“It was more work than we anticipated. We would love to be open, trust me,” he said.

The restaurant will be totally rebuilt and this week plans for the new building were submitted to the county. He said the building will be the same size. The former restaurant had a seating capacity of about 112.

“Everything will be the same,” he said.

He said they had hoped to salvage some of the building, but there was too much damage. “It is unbelievable how much soot can ruin everything,” DeLeon added.

Every employee of the MIddleburg restaurant has been paid a wage since the fire. He said that will continue until the reopening.

The Middleburg restaurant is co-owned by Dell Hoard Sr., his wife, Peggy, their son, Dell Jr., and his wife, Courtney.

Grumpy’s has received numerous awards for its made-to-order homestyle breakfast and lunch and has several locations in Northeast Florida.

No one was hurt in the fire on Jan. 19 at the restaurant. The restaurant had been closed for about four hours when an employee at a nearby business smelled smoke and called the fire department.

DeLeon said the fire started in the restaurant’s back prep room. A floor fan used by the cleaning crew to dry the floor caught on fire 14 minutes after the crew left the building.

A family friend of the Hoards created a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help the restaurant's employees until the diner reopens.

A longtime family friend, Leah Currie started the online fundraiser.

Currie wrote: “I'm calling on our community to help Grumpy's and support their staff as they are out of work for an unseen amount of time. We know they are strong and resilient. With the help of our community, we can help get our favorite breakfast/lunch spot back open.”

The online fundraiser had raised $8,257 as of Tuesday. To donate to the fund, click here.

DeLeon and his wife, Morgan, bought the flagship Grumpy's Restaurant in Orange Park in 2017. They now offer franchises of the restaurant.

A U.S. Navy cook, known as Chef Grumpy, opened the first Grumpy’s restaurant in 1999. The restaurant serves American and Southern food, including seafood. The restaurant promotes its cranky-looking chef logo and is known as the "Home of the Bad Mood Dude." The restaurants serve breakfast and lunch.

The Grumpy's restaurant in Middleburg has pushed back its grand reopening.Photo via GoFundMe

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I am a freelance journalist who has been covering Florida since 2004. I have experience in website and newspaper content as an editor and writer.


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