By DOUG WILSON
Herald-Whig Senior Writer
Sprout's Inn reopened for the first time in 15 months on Tuesday, and a sign in the front lobby said "Everything's special today."
Jenny Wiemelt didn't want a general announcement before the new building opened, but it didn't take long for the parking lot to fill up. A sign that proclaimed the restaurant open helped to bring in customers at 2814 N. 12th. Wiemelt and staff members also had dropped a hint or two that had many of the regulars stopping in for lunch.
"I'm so excited, seeing all my old customers. It's kind of been hard on me because I'm kind of a social person," Wiemelt said.
Wiemelt said the new restaurant is about 200 square feet bigger than the one destroyed by fire in June 2012. She designed islands for servers that improve the efficiency of the operation. Halls are wider and a larger kitchen is bolstered by a preparation area in the basement that may allow the restaurant to do some catering "once we get our legs under us" in the restaurant.
Wiemelt's husband, Bill, was the general contractor on the restaurant. He said it was a big project and led to some sleepless nights.
All that work seemed worth it on opening day.
Servers wore crisp white shirts and ties, black slacks and shoes. Kitchen staff used shiny new ovens and range tops to prepare meals. Customers were quick with praise and congratulations to Wiemelt and her crew.
Wiemelt said she knows lots of the customers by name, making the opening seem like a family reunion.
C. David Nuessen, a Quincy businessman and former mayor, was among the first to enter the new restaurant.
"It's a wonderful asset in the neighborhood and in the community. It's kind of become my home away from home with good food, comfort food and a nice place with people you know," Nuessen said.
Sprout's has been a Quincy tradition since 1940, when Wiemelt's grandparents, Cecil "Sprout" and Evelyn Schreacke McClean, opened the restaurant. Her father, Patrick McClean, bought the restaurant from his mother in 1979. He died in January 2012, five months before fire brought the building down.
The new building is set farther to the east on the lot, providing more parking up front and allowing cars to get off 12th Street more easily.