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Beloved Orange Park barbecue restaurant almost completely lost to fire

CLAY COUNTY, Fla — A fire earlier this month almost completely brought down G’s Slow Cooked BBQ in Orange Park, causing more than $100,000 in damage.

On January 9th, Gary Park, the owner, woke up around 2:00 AM to a call that his restaurant was on fire. He didn’t know it had already torn the inside apart and burned a hole in his heart.

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“It was very devastating for me,” Park says, “this was my livelihood, this was my employees’ livelihood, this was a dream of mine for many, many years.”

Park’s restaurant had been open almost 12 years, but burned down in a matter of hours.

“One of the biggest fears you have as a restaurant owner, especially in a restaurant, is a fire. When I got the call, I couldn’t believe it, honestly,” says Park.

When the call came from Clay County Fire Rescue, Park says he and his 10 employees rushed to the restaurant, to find it already lost to the flames.

“This was their livelihood, it was mine, my big dream,” Park says.

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The sights of the damage are almost as strong as the lingering smell of smoke. But not so much as the pain for Park’s workers, now without their way to make a living.

“Whatever we’re receiving right now, I’m giving them some of that, also,” Park says, “but it was their livelihood. If I could use one word, they’re lost right now.”

Park says he’s working to help them through the loss, but the fire that brought down the building won’t put out his passion.

“It’s very heartbreaking, it’s tough, I think those thoughts cross my mind once or twice, ‘do I continue to do this?’ But it’s something I love, it’s my livelihood, and I want to get my people back,” says Park.

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Action News Jax reached out to Clay County Fire Rescue to ask if it’s learned what caused the fire, but we’re still waiting to hear back.

Park says it will take a long time to rebuild, but anything helps. He’s started a GoFundMe to raise money for the restaurant and help his employees, which has already raised more than $11,000. If you’d like to donate to the restaurant, you can do so at the link here.

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