By Natalie Simms
It’s been nearly four months since a fire swept through the Pizza Farm Restaurant in Rockmart destroying the 49-year-old landmark on Knox Mountain Road just up from Carlton Farms and Rockmart High School. Owner Tommy Sanders is finally ready to start rebuilding his business but it won’t be at the same location…the new restaurant will be at 187 Marquette Road, just down from the high school off Ga. 113.
“We hope to get started within the next two weeks but we’ll see…it seems there’s always something stopping us from getting started. Right now, we’re waiting on soil conservation office in Rome for testing,” says Sanders. “Once we start construction, we hope it will be finished in three to four months.”
He says he decided not to rebuild at the previous location for two main reasons. First, the Marquette road site is closer to his home and second, lack of water pressure on Knox Mountain Road that hampered efforts to put out the Jan. 9 fire. Previous report on fire
“There is a lack of water pressure at the old location…they couldn’t put out the fire. We had a lot of good firemen doing all they could but you can only do so much without water. That has a lot to do with my decision to move,” he says.
According to reports, the Water Authority did not divert water into a pump to increase the flow rate up to hydrants on Knox Mountain Road as requested during the fire. Instead, Polk and Rockmart fire crews, along with engines and water tankers from Bartow County, had to pump water from nearby hydrants on Ga. 113 near the high school and transport it to the scene. An estimated 11-12 engines, tankers and service vehicles were on the scene at the height of the blaze.
Sanders says the official cause of the fire was electrical and he does not have an estimated total cost of damages but the restaurant was “a total loss.”
The final investigation report from the State Fire Marshal and Georgia Insurance Commissioner’s office was not available on Friday. Hometown Headlines reached out to Polk County Public Safety Director and Fire Chief Randy Lacey as well but he did not respond to our call or email before our deadline.
“It was an extensive structure fire…the most extensive we’ve dealt with on this end of the county in the last several years,” said Rockmart Fire Chief Todd Queen just after the fire.
Meanwhile, Sanders continues to work with an architect on the final design for the new restaurant. He is planning a “pole-barn design with the restaurant inside” but he is still finalizing square footage and seating.
“It will have a similar theme as the old restaurant with antiques and signs…although it won’t be as many as before…I had collected those over the years and many are hard to replace,” he says.
The community rallied around the Sanders and his employees in the aftermath of the fire. Some $20,000 was raised through T-shirt sales and donations to help provide for employees’ lost wages. Previous report
“I hope all my employees come back. I had some very good ones and I will probably have to hire more,” he says.
Sanders plans to keep the restaurant’s same schedule of being open Thursday-Sunday for lunch and dinner with hours 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Look for details on a groundbreaking ceremony soon on the Facebook page.