The Graeter's Ice Cream store in Town Center is scheduled to reopen by Friday, and possibly even earlier, according to co-owner Clay Cookerly.

The Graeter's Ice Cream store in Town Center is scheduled to reopen by Friday, and possibly even earlier, according to co-owner Clay Cookerly.

"We think we're in real good shape," he said last week.

That was far from the case in the wake of a major fire, mostly likely of electrical origin, that broke out on the morning of Feb. 20, 2007, in the building on the northwest corner of the intersection of Broadway and Park Street.

More than 30 firefighters from four different departments battled the stubborn blaze, that was first reported at 8:15 a.m. after an alarm went off inside the adjoining architectural firm at 4001 Broadway.

Most of the damage from the fire, which was completely under control by 10 a.m., was confined to the Graeter's section of the structure, and a summer of ice cream for Town Center visitors and income for the franchise owners was, well, toast.

"We obviously make all of our money in the summer," Cookerly said.

After Steed Hammond Paul decided to relocate to Columbus rather than return to the smoke- and water-damaged Town Center space, Cookerly indicated it was hoped a restaurant would occupy a large share of the building, with Graeter's returning in a somewhat smaller version.

That never came about, Cookerly admitted last week.

"We got very close and it just didn't work out, and so we couldn't wait any longer," he said.

Marketing efforts will continue to find another tenant, the co-owner added.

The new version of Graeter's, Cookerly said in March, should be about 1,700 square feet, down from the original design from 1998 of 2,600 square feet.

The May 2 return of the shop is contingent upon passing building inspections, but Cookerly expressed confidence last week that all was proceeding smoothly. He also said the coming weeks and months would see numerous "fun activities and specials for local people" to help lure them back to the store.

"Our apologies for being gone so long but we sure are glad to be back" said Cookerly, co-owner with Maury Levine of the Dayton and Columbus area Graeter's locations.