KINGSLEY -- A parking lot is taking shape at the future home of Jenny Leigh's Country Cookin' in the heart of Kingsley. It's one year after an inferno destroyed the restaurant along Route 11. Back then, the owner vowed to return bigger and better.
"It’s just been really hard, to find a new location, seems like I’ve been shot down everything I’ve tried to do," said Jenny Payne.
Payne tried to rebuild on the same spot, but it was too close to the road and she couldn't get permits. So Payne bought the former Aqua Inn nearby and has been renovating the century-old building with room for lodging upstairs.
"New windows, new doors, new wiring, new plumbing, new heat, eventually need a paint job," she said.
Without the insurance money, Payne said she wouldn’t be able to pump the hundreds of thousands of dollars she’s using to reopen here in Kingsley. She also says it’s not important for her, but for Kingsley itself.
"It’s the town. The town needs it. Small towns die because people can’t pick back up and move on," said Payne.
Faithful customers of the popular breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot are eager to welcome back Jenny and her restaurant.
"It was a terrible loss. Great to see her come back and have a new place to go to. Everybody come back and have a new place to go to. Everybody come back and enjoy again," said Albert Salansky.
As for Jenny, there's still lots of work to do before she can get employees back to work and meals served. In one year's time, however, Jenny's convinced she's right where she belongs.
"It’s just here, when you find in life what’s meant to be, it’s a great feeling," she said.
"The owner of Jenny Leigh's Country Cookin' said it could be a few more months before the restaurant reopens.
When it does, she's toying with the idea of adding an "n" on the name "Cookinn'" since the new location will have an inn as well.