With incredible hard work and dedication of Paul Runnels, Clinton Fairchild and Steven Holbrook, The Smokin’ Grill (which was formally known as The Western Steer) was finally up and running.

For more than 20 years that old brick building, which was the only steak house in Grayson, has stood strong. Now, as many of you know, it has suffered a tragic fire yesterday between 7:30 and 7:45 a.m. Arson investigators have not yet confirmed the cause of the fire.

As an employee I was concerned when I heard the fire had started, not knowing how bad it really was. I decided I wanted to see for myself; therefore, I got permission to do a journalism ‘breaking news’ article. Upon arriving at the sight I was more shocked than I thought I would be. There were six different fire departments from the surrounding areas at the location. In the front dining room the only thing left standing was the brick wall. The fire had demolished the entire inside except the back dining room, which was rarely used.

Two employees, Chad Dunn and Charity Blankenship arrived at the scene, not knowing they weren’t going to work that day. All of the employees have been there through it all, from day one. We were all devastated to know our time together has come to an end. Within the three months of the restaurant being open we had all became very close friends. Talking to another employee, one of my close friends, Shelley Kouns, she said, “It’s very devastating to think that after all the time and hard work we’ve all put into the restaurant, is now gone.”

There are a lot of people who are heart broken and affected by the incident, especially Chef Paul Runnels.Knowing Runnels personally, I can assure you he is a very hard working, committed, and goal oriented person. He, along with Fairchild, and Holbrook have put a lot of their time, money, and heart into this restaurant.

I spoke with Runnels at the scene and this is what he had to say: “It’s unreal, it’s like a dream you can’t wake up from. Business was just starting to pick back up again, and things were going good -- and something like this had to happen.”

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