NAPLES, Fla. - In the restaurant industry, opening night is always a form of organized chaos. It was no different Wednesday night, as the team of cooks, servers and bartenders at the Mangrove Cafe in Naples served up the dishes that have made the restaurant an institution for two decades. The restaurant has been rebuilt from rubble.
Husband and Wife team Doug and Diane Amaral have spent the last ten months picking up the pieces after an explosion nearly destroyed the place. In January, a propane leak created a huge fireball.
"It was very stressful," said Diane of the rebuilding process, "it was a financial burden for taking so long."
Wednesday night the restaurant opened the doors for the first time to family, friends and loyal customers. Kim and David Ball have been anxiously awaiting the re-opening.
"Just watching the signs and watching the progress and waiting for the boards to come down," said Kim Ball who has been coming to the Mangrove Cafe since it opened.
Sue and Chuck Mueller have known Doug and Diane since they opened the restaurant 20 years ago. They say the explosion was felt throughout the community.
"We were down here right after it happened and it just broke our hearts," said Sue Mueller, "it really broke our hearts because we love these people."
The restaurant will be having a "soft" opening this weekend, taking only limited reservations. It will be back to its normal hours starting on Monday.