LINCOLN PARK — It's been almost 1-1/2 years since Roy's Furniture on Sheffield Avenue was destroyed by fire, but on Thursday the family-run business opened the doors to its sleek new home.
"I was emotional all day," said Stacey Flood, the niece of owner Roy Warner Jr. and the general manager of the store. "I grew up in that old building."
The new, modern Roy's Furniture building at 2455 N. Sheffield Ave. has been a long time coming, as the owners dealt with the city permit process and insurance companies, but there was never any talk of moving, Flood said.
"We knew we had to come back," she said. "There was really no other option."
The neighborhood furniture store caught fire on May 28, 2012, and by the time more than 100 firefighters at the scene were able to extinguish it, the building was in ruins.
Investigators discovered that a cracked gas pipe on a space heater in the back warehouse was leaking, and a saw that was being used to cut down a portion of the ceiling during remodeling caused a spark, igniting the gas and starting the building on fire, Flood said.
Flood was working at her desk that day when she noticed smoke coming through the vents.
"It was really bad," Flood said. "The whole place went up in 15 minutes. It was crazy."
Since the building burned down, Roy's has operated out of a temporary warehouse in Pilsen.
Many loyal neighborhood customers made the trek.
"It got us through the year and a half," Flood said. "It's really the only way we stayed in business."
Thursday marked the soft opening of the new and improved Roy's, which is about the same size as the old store just much more open.
The company is planning a grand opening for Oct. 26 as a thank you to the neighborhood, with food, music and prizes from noon-2 p.m.
"There's a lot of mixed emotions because it's not the same Roy's, but there's a lot of excitement because we know it's going to be even better than it was," Flood said.
Roy Warner Sr. opened the business in 1981 on Sheffield, but had previously had storefronts in other parts of Lincoln Park, Flood said.
He and his son used to sell paint and appliances in a small storefront on Lincoln Avenue before it grew to a complete furniture store.
"We are a local business, a family business, not a big box store," Flood said. "People like that we can bring that to this neighborhood."