Dearman’s set to reopen in Bocage Village later this year after heavy fire damage _lowres

Advocate staff photo by BILL FEIG -- Austin Walker, left, and Chris Tate with Servepro cleaning company remove debris from a March 1 fire at the Original Dearman's Soda Shop in the Bocage Village Shopping Center at the corner of Jefferson Highway and Old Hammond Highway.

Just a week after a fire blazed through Dearman’s, owner David Van Gelder said he’s been burned again, this time by Bocage Village canceling the diner’s lease.

Van Gelder said shopping center manager Mitch Richardson told him Monday that the lease is being canceled. Van Gelder had unlocked the diner so the center’s insurance adjuster could inspect the damage from the early morning March 1 fire.

“There’s a clause (in the lease) that with a fire, they can do that,” Van Gelder said. “So I said, ‘It’s your property; you do what you want to do. Obviously, it’s not what I want.’ ”

Richardson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Van Gelder said he is unsure about reopening Dearman’s elsewhere. He’d like to, but it has to be the right location, he said.

Van Gelder said he was told he didn’t want to be in the burger business. “I said, ‘If I wanted to sell the place, I’d have sold it when we had a business. Now I’ve got nothing.’ ”

Van Gelder said he understands that Bocage Village can decide whether it wants a restaurant in that space, but he’s upset about what’s being said about the situation.

On Tuesday, WBRZ-TV quoted Richardson saying there were ongoing discussions with Dearman’s. The station said Dearman’s could not be reached for comment.

Van Gelder said Richardson told another media outlet that the neighbors weren’t happy with Dearman’s and there were some compliance issues.

“Well, that’s bull,” Van Gelder said.

Van Gelder said there were no discussions. He said Richardson handed him an envelope and told him the lease was canceled. Van Gelder said Richardson also has inquired about whether Dearman’s name is for sale.

The diner’s closure also affects eight to 10 college students who worked there part time, Van Gelder said.

Follow Ted Griggs on Twitter, @tedgriggsbr.