FT. BRANCH, INDIANA — For a restaurant, staying open for almost a half century is no easy task. A passionate fan base, like the one Ft. Branch’s Gemeca Inn has, helps.
“Very, very favorite place,” Cookie Edwards of Ft. Branch said.
“My wife and I love to come here to eat,” Quentin Emerson, an Owensville man, said.
“It was definitely one of the best places to get a steak in the Tri-State,” Lance Seaton of Ft. Branch said.
Around 2 a.m. Saturday, firefighters received a call that Gemeca Inn was on fire. Multiple fire departments arrived on scene, working to put out the blaze. Two hours later, the fire was gone, but so was the beloved restaurant.
Ft. Branch Fire Department’s chief Mike Sokeland said he does not suspect foul play in the fire, but investigators are still considering all possibilities in this ongoing investigation.
“We’re going to miss Gemeca Inn terribly,” Emerson said. “It’s a big loss to the community and to Southern Indiana, really. It’s a great restaurant.”
The restaurant went through a remodeling process earlier this year, which some patrons said makes the loss even more upsetting.
“They’ve done a marvelous job in remodeling and getting things going and it’s such a tragic loss,” Emerson said.
Emerson, a life-long resident of Gibson County, said he will always have a special connection to his favorite eatery.
“We were the last customers here, which is amazing and I hate it so much,” he said.
Edwards, a faithful patron since 1978, was also dining out last night.
“We were hungry for fish last night, so that’s what we had,” Edwards said. “Service is always great. The place was full. The food’s always been the same. That’s the nice thing about it. It’s never changed.”
And other patrons will remember Gemeca Inn for more than just its food.
“My wife, she worked there when she was younger in high school, and it even helped pay for her vehicle,” seaton said.
The owner said it is still too early to decide whether to rebuild the restaurant, but one thing is certain – Gemeca Inn will live on in the memories of its loyal patrons.