Heartline Restaurant owner reflects on change and growth from Hurricane Michael

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DANVILLE, Va. (WDBJ) - 999 Riverside Drive is on the corner of Riverside and Arnett Blvd. You can't miss it driving though Danville. But in just a few days, it won't exist anymore.

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The building is 63 years old. For 63 years it housed one business: Heartline Restaurant. In 1991, Debra Layne took the business over.

"I lost my business of 28 years. I lost my spot on Riverside Drive," said Layne, referring to the damage that Hurricane Michael caused in October 2018.

The flooding she experienced in October was the third time water had entered the building in 2018. There was too much work that needed to be done to save it. So she knew she had to close the Riverside location.

"We just packed up. I didn't know you could move that many years in a building that fast."

December 31, 2018 was her last day. But in April 2019, she was back open for business, this time on South Boston Road. Before she opened, Layne felt heartbroken, but not hopeless.

"We closed on the 31st but actually I found out a week before we closed, that we were getting that building, but I just hadn't made the announcement because I hadn't signed the papers," said Layne.

While Layne's new location might not be on Riverside Drive, it's not prone to flooding either.

"How it's changed is, I was there for 38 years and had it down pat. When I got down here, I had a lot to learn myself," said Layne.

There are still some things Layne said she is learning. For one, she is now in a bigger space which means needing more help, more equipment, and more food. Layne said she is happy, though, and is ready to continue her new chapter.

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