DEER GROVE, Illinois – “The Happy Spot”, a popular chicken restaurant south of Sterling, is reopening Wednesday after a fire destroyed the building last summer.
“Arnie’s Happy Spot” was reduced to rubble last July after an electrical fire in the bathroom.
Now, "The Happy Spot" is back and sizzling up the homestyle fried chicken dinners they’ve been known for serving the last 80 years.
“A lot of that has to do with the dry batter and some of the other things we do with the chicken, which I’ll keep to myself,” says co-owner, Rick Lance.
Rick, along with his wife Angie, bought the place last spring two months before a fire burned it to ashes.
“July 23rd is when it broke down,” comments Angie.
“We came out, flames were already through the roof and it was already too late,” Rick remembers.
Being a small-town chicken dinner legacy, they knew rebuilding was a must. Rick and his crew took it upon themselves to construct the restaurant from scratch.
“On the coldest days they were out there,” says Angie.
“We worked out here in the winter bundled up and like she said, just a bunch of sticks in the air,” says Rick.
Almost one year later, they can call the red-sided chicken restaurant their own, by re-purposing the old and bringing in the new.
“The siding is actually from the old building, so we saved some,” Angie explains.
The restaurant showcases a brand-new chandelier made of 30 Jack Daniel’s whiskey bottles.
“I heard it was six months he drank about all of the Jack Daniel’s in it,” Rick laughs.
They’ve also decided to leave images of the fire framed on the wall.
“We’ll never forget it,” says Angie. “It’ll always be with us.”
“We built it from scratch, so it’s one of those things her and I will have a legacy to leave behind now,” says Rick.
A winning chicken dinner tradition, still living up to its name.
The owners are expecting a few hundred people to make it out Wednesday night. They’ll serve the same fried chicken recipe along with some new options like pork belly mac and cheese.