More than a year ago, the facade of the JC Yeatts building came crashing down, also bringing down the hopes and dreams of the owner of an adjacent restaurant.

Mike Bajami, owner of Venecia in downtown Ardmore, now lives in Ohio after the building that occupied his restaurant was forced to close due to safety issues.

“I went to Colombus after five months because my financial situation was not good. I made efforts to work, but it was impossible to compensate because I invested there (in Ardmore),” Bajami said. “After what happened, I could not stay in Ardmore. At the same time it hurts very badly for the people who worked there because they had family with income from the restaurant.”

Bajami said he has been unable to keep in contact with any of his former employees since moving to Ohio.

“I say it is very bad, even for the workers in the restaurant,” Bajami said.

Bajami had only owned the business for a short period before the unexpected collapse of the neighboring building put a halt to his plans in Ardmore.

“The restaurant was open for 10 months. During a visit to the city of Ardmore, I saw that such a restaurant was missing there and I saw it reasonable and necessary to open Venecia with fresh food, as we have the service to the citizens of Ardmore.”

Bajami said he’s missed the area since relocating to Ohio.

“Ever since the first visit in Ardmore I was enthusiastic with the culture, the people,” Bajami said. “They are such friendly people. The old town, the ‘make it for yourself’ attitude. I just like everything in Ardmore.”

Bajami said he plans to reopen his beloved restaurant in Ardmore, but doesn’t have an estimate on when that might be.

“I can not assume the time limit, the desire is great for returning to Ardmore,” Bajami said. “I do not see any obstacles (in reopening), Ardmore’s citizens like such a restaurant, they still write to me and ask why I do not go back to Ardmore, but financially I am not ready to reopen.”