by Lisa Tome
Fire sparked a rebuilding frenzy for Milt McAllister, Sr.
On Wednesday afternoon, October 7, Milt and his son Milt, Jr. (Eddie), were inside the Bigfoots Express store in Oxford, Pa. The two men are gearing up for that store's opening on or about October 20.
The following morning, Milt, Sr. was in Rising Sun, watching his former business, Bigfoots, on Main Street, being leveled months after fire destroyed the building on June 7. On that date, firefighters were called to the scene for fire in an electrical panel. The situation escalated and the fire grew to three alarms. It damaged both the restaurant and a neighboring home.
"We are going to rebuild. But it's going to be different. We have some issues. I am looking to build on the same foundation if we can. I'm not going to have apartments (above the business) anymore. If we can't build on the same foundation, we'll build a new one. But building on the old one would save us months," he said.
McAllister had hoped to reopen in Rising Sun by early 2016. He said the delay was caused due to the investigation and awaiting the insurance settlement.
"That was a 100 year-old building. But we're coming back to Rising Sun. I grew up in Oxford but I always hung out in Rising Sun. I went to (what is now Bigfoots) when it was Fanucci's. I am planning to come back," he said.
Thursday morning demo crews were on scene in Rising Sun. But while McAllister is waiting for the construction, he has another project. He is helping Eddie open the Bigfoots Express store. That store will offer most everything offered at Bigfoots except pizza. Eddie said they are also adding new items to the menu in Oxford.
When the Rising Sun Bigfoots opens in May or June of 2016, the Oxford store will remain open. Milt will run the anchor store. Eddie will run the express version.
"Realistically, we will open in May or June. We'll be down about a year. We're going to hit winter," he said. "I'll be headed back to Rising Sun where I belong. We were looking to open another place anyway. Now we'll be a small chain and may open more," he said.
He is also grateful. He said he is thankful no one was injured and said the support following the fire was tremendous. "The people of Rising Sun made us who we are. After the fire, people reached out to us. We appreciated it. I really miss Rising Sun. I miss my cheesesteaks," he said.
When it comes to staff, many of the employees at the Rising Sun Bigfoots are related. At least 15 of those staffers are members of Milt McAllister's family. He said that some have taken other jobs or have been collecting unemployment. "They are all waiting to come back," he said.