Plank's Bier Garten could have a new-and-improved look when it reopens, but the makeover is not expected to be completed until late February at the earliest.

Plank's Bier Garten could have a new-and-improved look when it reopens, but the makeover is not expected to be completed until late February at the earliest.

After a small fire broke out Dec. 7 at the Brewery District restaurant, co-owner Dan Plank said he was hopeful the place would be ready to reopen by New Year's Eve.

But construction and repair crews told Plank that would not be possible.

The fire has, however, opened up a few opportunities at Plank's, 888 S. High St.

Designers have been kicking around some ideas, such as expanding the kitchen and reconfiguring the bar space, which would improve service, Plank said.

"There's going to be some remodeling involved, all well-needed changes," he said. "It might not be a simple cleanup."

Nothing is set in stone, however, as the Plank family mulls over its options.

Columbus Division of Fire officials 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, Plank said.

No one was hurt in the fire.

Plank's, which has had a presence on the South Side since 1939, lost $50,000 in food and beverages, Plank said. He said he didn't have estimates on total repairs.

The place hasn't had any significant renovation work since the late 1980s, he said.

Adding pizza ovens 20 years ago made space in the kitchen even tighter, he said. The family also owns Plank's on Broadway in Grove City while a relative owns Plank's Cafe & Pizzeria on nearby Parsons Avenue.

Plank said he has received strong support from area restaurants, such as Gresso's and Jimmy V's Grill & Pub, which have temporarily hired some of Plank's employees and offered other assistance.

"Everyone on this block is like family, so everyone here is trying to help their customers and employees while they're rebuilding," said Jimmy V's bartender Chelsea Forsythe.

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