COITSVILLE Bulls Eye eatery burns
The owner plans to rebuild the restaurant.
By MARALINE KUBIK
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
COITSVILLE -- A landmark business went up in flames early this morning while the owner and employees watched with tears streaming down their faces.
The Bulls Eye Restaurant, 6965 McCartney Road, was a total loss. The nearby Kings Inn Motel was evacuated as a precautionary measure.
Firefighters were hampered in fighting the blaze because there were no hydrants near the restaurant. Water had to be brought in by tanker trucks from various locations, including a nearby pond and Victory Assembly Christian Center, which is two miles away.
Joe Parsons, a longtime motel employee, notified the fire department that smoke was coming from the restaurant about 7 a.m. after a passer-by noticed smoke blowing off the roof.
Owner Wayne King was across the street getting his morning coffee at the Tic Toc Food Mart when the fire was spotted. Holding back sobs while watching the building destroyed by fire, King said he would rebuild.
Built in 1938
The landmark business was built on the site of an old filling station in 1938 as Kings Inn by Wayne King's father, when King was 6 months old.
King remembers "six wee little cabins and a very small restaurant. ... We started with three acres and just kept adding on trying to make it nicer. We just kept adding to it like Johnny Cash's Cadillac."
In the early years, the family lived in an apartment above the restaurant, and everyone worked to build the business. King's father gradually bought more and more property expanding the family's holdings over the past 66 years to include 400 acres, a 38-room motel and a much larger restaurant.
Tom and Donna Moschella leased the restaurant almost 10 years ago and changed its name to the Bulls Eye. Tom Moschella had worked at the restaurant for 22 years before taking over.
At the scene
He watched the blaze with his son, King, and King's son, Mark, from the motel office while his wife and two other women, both restaurant employees, huddled near an office window with their arms around one another and brushing tears from their faces as they recalled years of their lives spent in the restaurant.
"There are a lot of memories in that building, a lot of memories," they said, shaking their heads.
"That's the oldest part of the building -- that peak that's still standing," King interjected. "I used to live up there."
As the roof collapsed, the women sobbed.
"You got the last rib dinner to leave that building," Donna Moschella told King.
"My wife isn't feeling well, and they sent us rib dinners last night," he explained.
Recalling happier times, King said, "We wanted to do something to honor my father and mother, so we took everything back to 1938 prices and gave everything we took in that day to Tod Children's Hospital." That was in 1989, in celebration of the family's 52 years in business.
"I found some old signs up in the attic, and we sold 5-cent candy. A spaghetti dinner, I think, was 50 cents. We had a car show in the parking lot."
Worried that his 90-year-old mother, who resides in an assisted-living center, would hear about the fire from television news reports, King asked his son, Mark, to phone her to let her know no one had been injured.
After speaking with his grandmother, Mark King handed the phone to his father.
"We've got a fire at the restaurant. It's a total loss. We'll have to rebuild," King told his mother. "I want you to keep in mind that no one was hurt. I love you." Tears trickled down his cheeks as he handed the cell phone back to his son.
Departments at scene
Several fire and police departments responded to the blaze including Coitsville, Campbell, Struthers, Poland, Pulaski, Bessemer, North Lima, Beaver, Springfield, Neshannock, Union and Lowellville.
Firefighters at the scene had to endure a wind chill of minus 6 degrees, with winds gusting to about 15 mph.
Youngstown Fire Chief John O'Neill Jr. said wind is a factor at any fire -- especially when buildings are close together.
Wind chill affects firefighters, not equipment, because water won't freeze that much faster, he said. Hoses, though, will freeze to the ground once encapsulated in ice, he said.