Three months after a fire gutted Joe Mommas pizza in downtown Tulsa, owner and City Councilman Blake Ewing is looking toward the future.
The space needs to be completely rebuilt - nothing inside the restaurant was able to be saved after the early morning fire on July 8th.
But, since the day of the fire, Ewing has worked to make sure his employees had jobs; and this weekend will be the grand opening of the new concept, just a couple storefronts down, at White Flag.
Around 7:00 a.m. on July 8, smoke could be seen billowing from Joe Mommas pizza on Elgin.
Ewing got the call from a friend who is a Tulsa firefighter. His initial thought was that it was a false alarm.
"I learned pretty quickly there was a severe issue inside,” he said.
Ewing’s first restaurant was destroyed. He says it’s hard for him to even go inside there now.
"It’s a weird thing to walk into a place where you have so many memories and friendships made completely changed," he said.
Now, three months later, cleanup is almost complete.
Smoke got into the bricks, the heat of the fire melted some of the roof, and Joe Mommas’ 40 employees were left wondering what to do.
"Imagine the shock to their system to know the place they go to work just isn’t there anymore," Ewing said.
Sadie Younger was one of those employees.
"We were all heartbroken,” she said. “That is a second home to all of us, and we put so much time and effort into that place."
But most of those employees didn't go without jobs for the last three months. Ewing has been paying them to help brainstorm ideas for the new White Flag concept, set for its grand opening this weekend.
"We've kept a really great core of people. It’s been really impressive with an entrepreneurial attitude as we’ve gone through the transition, and it’s been great," Ewing said.
There is still a lot to do at Joe Mommas.
Ewing plans to tweak the layout and menu, simply saying it will re-open next year and that it will be just as great as everyone remembers.
White Flag will have a menu with some Joe Mommas staples, and, of course, the Joe Mommas staff.
"We've seen people be really loyal, and it shows at White Flag; the attitude and moral here is as good as ever," Ewing said.
So, this Saturday, for the White Flag grand opening, the fun starts at 11 a.m. for what Ewing calls brisket brunch and the OU-Texas game.
They will have live music and raffles throughout the day and a debut of the new menu.