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Former Penn’s Hamburgers building torn down in Decatur

DECATUR, Ala. - A century old building in Decatur is coming down.

Over the weekend, workers began tearing down the building which was the former home of C.F. Penn's Hamburgers. The building's owner says the roof was severely damaged in the storm that blew through town last spring.

But people who've been eating at Penn's for decades are hoping the diner will open again soon.

Before the sun was up on Sunday morning, workers in bright vests were warming up the big machinery.

"I knew not everyone would be up this early to watch," Decatur city council president Paige Bibbee said.

While most of Decatur was still asleep, workers closed off Moulton Street to begin a massive demolition.

"I think it was built in 1903. So, that's a lot of time it's been there," William Vandiver said.

The building had been home to the Gridiron and C.F. Penn's hamburgers, a popular lunch spot for many. But no one's eaten here in months after a storm ripped off most of the roof last year.

"Just wanted to witness it, for my son to witness it, the memory of it," Vandiver said. "That it was such an iconic building and a landmark here at Moulton and 2nd street." Vandiver formerly owned Penn's Hamburgers for seven years.

"Having parents here, that was something I was raised on. You either like them or you don't," Bibbee said.

People in Decatur haven't given up on Penn's reopening and they may get their wish. The owner has found a location he thinks could be a suitable home for the burger place, the former car lot and bait shop on 6th avenue.

"I think he can do it," Vandiver said.

"We're trying to revitalize downtown Decatur," Bibbee said. "And I think this is going to be a very pivotal move because this is a large space on this corner."

By Sunday afternoon, the old restaurant was nothing more than a pile of wood and bricks. So far, the owner of the property hasn't yet announced plans for development.

In a Facebook post he shared with supporters of the restaurant, the new general manager of Penn's told them he hopes to reopen the diner on the anniversary of the storm, which happened on April 3rd.

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