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Fundraiser to benefit displaced staff of popular fire-ravaged Belleview eatery

The owners of a Belleview restaurant that was ravaged by flames earlier this month will be holding a fundraising event on Sunday.

Crews from multiple Marion County Fire Rescue stations battled a blaze on Feb. 12 at Aunt Fannie’s Restaurant in Belleview.

According to a Facebook post from Kathy Umland, the event will be from noon-4 p.m. in the parking lot of the restaurant, located at 6147 Abshier Blvd. in Belleview. Mercy will perform at the benefit and DJ Tom Yuelling Sr. is donating his time to help the employees of the eatery. Those attending will enjoy Aunt Fannie’s homemade fried chicken, karaoke, 50/50 raffles and a silent auction.

“We have worked hard to bring our community together at their favorite restaurant, until it is rebuilt,” said Umland, whose 62-year-old husband, A.J., opened the eatery when he was just 23 years old. “I want to show my husband that his customers, friends, business owners and the entire community are standing behind him.”

Aunt Fannie’s restaurant was heavily damaged by flames in the early morning hours of Feb. 12 after a fire broke out in the eatery’s kitchen. Multiple crews from Marion County Fire Rescue responded to the blaze at 12:05 a.m. after receiving reports of a commercial structure fire and heavy smoke coming from the roof of the building.

Kathy and A.J. Umland, owners of Aunt Fannie’s restaurant in Belleview

Kathy Umland took to Facebook later that day about the fire that destroyed the restaurant. She also launched a Gofundme.com account to raise money for a food truck so the restaurant’s customers can continue to enjoy their favorite dishes until the eatery is completely restored.

“He has given to others, now it’s time to give back to him!” she wrote of her husband, while also pledging to begin rebuilding immediately. “We must stand together during this time of tragedy. We will rise out of the ashes and become stronger!!!

In a Facebook post the day after the fire, Kathy Umland said she and her husband and the eatery’s 15 employees are “out of a job” until the facility is rebuilt, which is expected to take several months.

“My husband and I must continue to work, despite the emotional chaos that we are enduring,” she wrote.

Photos in Ocala, Florida

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