A construction project that was expected to take a few months has turned into a slog, with endless modifications, permit issues and construction snags.

Yet Plank's Bier Garten is rapidly on the mend and will reopen soon.

Just how soon, however, the owners won't say.

They are being cautious while an eager public has watched previously stated reopening dates come and go.

"We're working hard to get it opened before too much longer," said Chris Plank, who owns the restaurant with her brother, Dan Plank. "It's making progress, a lot of progress."

A small fire occurred Dec. 7, 2016, in the neighborhood hangout at 888 S. High St.

Columbus Division of Fire officials at the time said they believed the blaze started in unprotected wooden structural components close to a steel exhaust hood and vent.

The damage at first appeared to be only on the second floor, but the structural damage was more extensive, officials later learned.

Plank's general manager John McGinnis said the age and design of the 3,500-square-foot structure have caused plan revisions, leading to additional delays, McGinnis said.

"It's hard," he said. "It's difficult, very difficult."

The brick structure, at the northeast corner of South High and East Whittier Street, was built in 1930. Plank's opened in 1939. Another Plank's on Parsons Avenue is owned by relatives.

The good news is there have been numerous upgrades at the South High Street restaurant, some the customers will recognize and others that are more obscure, McGinnis said.

All of the electrical, plumbing and HVAC are new, as are the restrooms, Chris Plank said.

A bigger kitchen will allow the staff to improve the menu but there won't be too many new items, McGinnis said.

There's a new bar and garage doors that open up to the front patio. The spacious back patio features new brick and a drainage system that is expected to reduce the formation of puddles, McGinnis said.

It's been frustrating, McGinnis said, to tell customers that a reopening date was looming, only to have to cancel.

But the support shown by friends and well-wishers has been tremendous, he said.

"I'm excited to open," he said. "It's going to definitely be booming."

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary