Future of Delaware diner in question [video]

     (Photo courtesy of Jim Gray)

    (Photo courtesy of Jim Gray)

    The Kirby & Holloway Family Restaurant sign is all that’s left on the now empty lot along Route 13 in Dover. 

    Demolition crews trashed what remained of the Delaware landmark in July. The charred shell of the once bustling diner sat untouched for more than a year after an electrical fire gutted the place in February 2014. 

    Owner Jim Gray said an old outlet he never used sparked, igniting the fire just 30 minutes after he closed up shop for the night.

    “I got there and there were fire engines all around the place. Smoke, flames coming out of the ceiling. And I knew it was serious,” said Gray, during an interview with WHYY earlier this year.

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    At the time, Gray vowed to rebuild his family-owned, family-run business. But before he could bring Kirby & Holloway back to life, Gray lost an eight-year battle with colon cancer in May. He was 68.  

    Without Gray leading the charge, his son, Philip, said plans for a rebuild are on hold for now. 

    “We’ve decided as a family to take a step back and evaluate our options,” Philip Gray said in an email. “We’re unsure what we’ll do at the moment, but we don’t have any intentions to rebuild this fall.”

    Gray said when the time is right his family will revisit the idea. The Grays own the land where the restaurant was located, “Leaving the possibility for some iteration of the K&H Family Restaurant legacy to continue if and when it’s right for the family,” Gray said. 

    Local sausage manufacturers Russell Kirby and John Holloway opened the diner in 1948, seeing the need for a restaurant along the DuPont Highway in Dover. 

    Jim Gray bought it in the early 1980s. In its heyday, Kirby & Holloway served as many as 75 meals an hour to hungry locals and travelers.

    This story will appear tonight on First on WHYY-TV at 5:30 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. 

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