Sitara looks to reopen in ‘a couple of months’


JieJie Wang

Holli Gomes, co-owner of Sitara, sits in her restaurant at 114 S Race St. in Urbana. Sitara was forced to close in October after a kitchen fire, but should reopen within the next two months.

By Jiejie Wang, Staff Writer

A kitchen fire forced Sitara to close down in October. Now, the restaurant hopes to reopen within the next two months.

“When the fire happened, our employees even didn’t notice the fire because they couldn’t smell it, and they couldn’t see the smoke,” said Holli Gomes, co-owner of Sitara.

“The building owner lived next door and he saw the flame shooting out of the building.”

Sitara is an Indian restaurant located at 114 S. Race St. in Urbana.

Gomes said she and her husband received an outpour of emails, calls and Facebook messages since the fire from eager customers asking when Sitara will reopen.

“We had a pretty good customer base,” Gomes said.

“We’ll lose our customers if they really thought we would be closed for good.”

Bobby Gomes, Holli’s husband and co-owner of Sitara, said they are letting the insurance company do its job, but they still had to lay off five waiters and two chefs.

“When the fire originally happened, we were hoping to rebuild the restaurant by the end of November, but everything has been harder to get the construction started,” Holli said.

“So, it’s gonna be a couple of months from now before we get to reopen. It just took longer than what we expected.”

Part of the confusion surrounding the reopening of Sitara might have to do with its status on Google Maps, where it is marked as permanently closed.

“I may need to find a way to contact Google Maps to clarify it, too,” Holli said. “And I found another one this morning. It was reported that we would be reopening this month, so I have to clarify that too. I just want to make everyone on the same page where we are on.”

Loyal customers, however, are looking forward to its reopening.

Heather Shoemaker, a regular at Sitara, said she eats there a couple of times per month.

“It’s one of my favorite restaurants,” Shoemaker said. “I expect that they could reopen as soon as possible.”

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