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Burger King franchise owners rebuilding after grease fire

By Catherine Dominguez For the Gerasimowicz family, a good burger is more than one of America’s favorite fast-food fares, it’s a legacy. And after the family’s first Burger King franchise was damaged in a fire May 26, the outpouring of concern from the community about when the location on Gosling Road at Research Forest would reopen only fueled the family’s desire to rebuild, remodel and reopen the doors as soon as possible. “It’s a family owned business, and we all went through high school here,” Rob Gerasimowicz Jr. said. “We have had lots of friends calling and asking what’s going on.” Gerasimowicz said his father, Rob Gerasimowicz Sr., started the family business years ago. While retired today, Gerasimowicz said he and his younger siblings, twins Justin and Jillian, are running the company that includes two other Burger Kings in The Woodlands area. “We have always been community oriented,” Gerasimowicz said. “We are involved with local charities like the car clubs and youth supports.” Gerasimowicz said his family is looking at the positive side of the fire and taking the opportunity to update the restaurant. Flame broiled The fire that damaged the restaurant started about 9:30 in the evening. Gerasimowicz said all the employees and customers safely evacuated the building. “It was a standard restaurant grease fire,” Gerasimowicz said. “The Woodlands Fire Department, being right across the street, did an amazing job.” Gerasimowicz said while the firefighters were able to save the structure, the restaurant has a great deal of water damage. According to Wayne Walker, deputy chief of operations, the fire started over the broiler and spread up the vent hood and into the ceiling. “Grease builds up in those things over time,” Walker said. “The framing around the vent hood began to catch and we were there quickly and got it out before it got up in the attic and took off.” Gerasimowicz said while his family doesn’t plan to change the outside of the building, he said they would take the opportunity to update and upgrade the inside of the restaurant. He said the Burger King would be closed for at least a month. “We are just going gut the restaurant and bring it back up to Woodlands standards,” he said. “We are planning to put more money into and get it back up and running.” Perfect ingredients for growth According to Burger King’s website, the concept was founded in 1954 and is the second largest hamburger chain in the United States. Today, the company is based in Miami and operates 12,300 locations; 90 percent of those are franchises owned by individuals or families. Gerasimowicz said his family opened the Burger King on Gosling in 1993. It was one of the first fast-food restaurants, and the first Burger King, in The Woodlands. “At that time (there wasn’t much on) Research Forest, and Texas 242 didn’t exist,” he said. “The shopping center had just been built so it was a gamble on our family’s part to put something in the back of The Woodlands. We rolled the dice on that and it has worked out very well for us.”

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