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Recipes saved from fire

--- Moy's looks ahead to reopening

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published August 6, 2007, 2:10 p.m.)

A few weeks after the Jan. 8 fire at Moy's Restaurant in Elkhorn, owner Paul Moy realized the most important thing he had to do, and it wasn't working out deals with insurance companies and building contractors.

"I'm the only one who makes my sauce and I never write down the recipes," Moy said. "After the second week I realized it's going to take at least six or seven months to get back into business so I thought, 'I need to write down all my recipes.'"

Moy won't even let his cooks make the many sauces that come with his full menu of Chinese cuisine.

"It's always homemade," Moy said. "If you teach somebody else, everybody is not the same. They will change the sauce recipe. Some want them sweeter.

"After 31 years, I've got it down pat. That is why I do not want to rely on my help to make the sauce. Every time customers come in here, the food always tastes the same."

Moy expects the same great flavor time after time. He said Friday that customers can expect to taste his meals again sometime in December or January.

Moy hasn't planned a grand re-opening date yet. Remodeling of the approximately 115-year-old building is about 30 percent complete.

Getting reimbursements from his insurance company has caused the delays in reopening, Moy said.

The morning fire, which started by spontaneous combustion in a pile of just-dried kitchen towels, caused about $1.9 million in damages. It gutted the kitchen area and sent smoke throughout the three-story building.

The layout of the restaurant and bar will remain the same, but with completely new drywall and furnishings. The kitchen was completely rebuilt, Moy said.

Contractors will begin extensive remodeling in the next few days now that insurance headaches are taken care of, Moy said.

The fire and smoke damage took everything, he said.

"Tables, chairs, glasses, china-ware, everything in my kitchen; it's all brand new. There was nothing we were able to save," Moy said.

Except those recipes.

Everything will return to the menu and Moy might add a few new dishes to compliment his Chinese and American delights.

Most of Moy's original staff of about 28 will return, too, he said. Many have been with him for nearly all 31 years he has been in business.

Customers are salivating get back into the popular eatery. Moy's had great food and great service, said Trish Lembitz, a county employee who frequented the restaurant on lunch breaks from her downtown government center office.

"I can't wait," Lembitz said. "My mouth is watering right now thinking about it."

Marnie Ide, from the county clerk's office, ate there about three times a week.

"Nobody around here had food like they do. I won't eat anywhere else for Chinese," Ide said.

Another county employee, Theresa Cliffgard, said the community is ready to go back.

"I think there are a lot of people that miss it. We're hoping it will open again soon," she said.

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