‘We’ve got to try:' Green Gables plans to rebuild after fire
Six months after McLean County lost one of its most popular burger joints, the owner has decided to rebuild.
Amy Tague is a third-generation owner of Green Gables restaurant at Lake Bloomington. The business dates back to the Great Depression when it opened as a gas station. Tague said the restaurant and grocery store have been a big part of her life, too, ever since she started working there in grade school. She helped her grandfather put in the ice cream orders when the product was delivered at what was then a grocery store and restaurant.
“I remember (I) always got the orange sherbet push-pops as my reward,” recalled Tague, adding she also did less fun jobs at the restaurant, including cleaning the bathrooms.
Tague’s husband has run Green Gables since she bought it from her father. Tague said she mostly helped during the summer. She teaches business and consumer education at Normal Community High School.
Tague was on a job visit with a student in Bloomington when her nephew called her one afternoon in May to say the restaurant was on fire. She got in her car and rushed to the scene.
“It was when I turned off the interstate and saw the smoke that I went into shock and started crying,” Tague said.
Tague said for a time, she considered the fire a sign that Green Gables should remain a memory, but memories of the place — the food and the people — coaxed her back.
“There would be times (I’d say) I wish I could go up to Gables tonight for a burger. More of those conversations kept happening,” she said.
Several fundraisers also helped cover some of the costs to rebuild, including those hosted by Epiphany Farms Restaurant and Destihl Brewery. Tague that’s when she realized many others missed it, too.
“When we did those fundraisers and everybody shows up and tells me their stories of (Green) Gables and how much they love it, there’s no way we can’t try to bring it back. We’ve got to try,” Tague said.
Tague said Green Gables raised about $20,000 through the fundraisers, adding construction is expected to begin next spring with the reopening next fall. She said it will have a similar layout with more seating and the same hole-in-the-wall feel.
“It’s going to be newer, so everybody is going to have to be OK with that,” Tague quipped. “No sunken ceiling and tiny little bathrooms and uneven floors.”
On Tuesday, the McLean County Zoning Board of Appeals approved a zoning variance for the project.