Family, friends, employees and supporters of Howie's Pizza and Subs joined the Howard family Wednesday to kick off construction of the new restaurant.

Reconstruction of the restaurant began Wednesday, four months after fire destroyed the building on South Keystone Avenue in Sayre. Owner Don Howard, holding a golden shovel, and his family gathered Wednesday morning for a brief groundbreaking prior to the start of construction.

The feeling of getting started on the new restaurant is "phenomenal," Howard said. Howard's wife Peggy and other family members also expressed their excitement for rebuilding Wednesday.

Heavy fire, which began at the rear of the building, destroyed the restaurant in the early morning hours of Nov. 20, 2012. Over 20 employees of the restaurant temporarily lost their jobs just as the holidays began to approach.

The community came together in the following weeks to raise money for the employees and their families, with benefits held at the Valley Bowling Center, Image Salon and Tanner's Bar.

Community supporters and local dignitaries, including state Rep. Tina Pickett, stopped by the site Wednesday morning to offer the Howards their well wishes.

"Not only is Howie's a fun place to come and have some good food, but [the Howards] are great community people," Pickett said. "I wish them great success."

Howard said he hopes to have the building finished and serving pizzas again in July.

Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: