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Fire intentionally set destroys former restaurant in Manatee County

Posted at 10:24 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 23:15:52-05

BRADENTON, Fla. — Investigators are trying to figure out who intentionally set a fire at a vacant building in Manatee County.

Firefighters responded to the building on State Road 64 in Bradenton on Sunday night around 7:15 p.m. The fire marshal said it was arson.

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Officials said the building did not have electricity or gas.

"Somebody called. I don't even remember who it was. They called and said your store is on fire. I live about three miles away," said owner Eugene Moore.

Eugene Moore owns the property and used the building for storage. Most recently, it was a bar, but it closed about two years ago.

Locals remember the building as Farmer's Inn, a convenience store and restaurant. Moore owned the landmark for more than 45 years.

"We sold a lot of hamburgers in here, chicken sandwiches, fish sandwiches, pork chop sandwiches. On Fridays, I used to have a big BBQ grill outside here on the porch," said Moore.

Moore said he hired teens to work at the restaurant and for many of them, it was their first job.

"I had a lot of kids work, a lot of high school kids. Use to call it Gino's boot camp because I didn't put up with nothing. If you didn't want to work, go home," said Moore.

Investigators are working to figure out who set the fire and destroyed the family's business.

"It's gone, 40 some years. I have four kids and they would all come to work with us," said Moore. "People would come from all over, out of town. I used to have people come from down south in Sarasota."

"I used to have these working guys come in and they wouldn't have enough money, be short a couple of bucks, I'd say pay me tomorrow or the next time you're here. They always did," he added.