It's the moment Matt Morris has waited nearly three years for — the grand reopening of his favorite restaurant.
"We're really excited," said Morris.
Morris, eager to eat at the Candlelite again, lined up with dozens of others Wednesday morning outside of the new Candlelite Inn. The new restaurant is located where it's always been, on E. Division Street in Arlington just south of AT&T Stadium.
The Candlelite Inn first opened in 1957 and was a thriving business for more than five decades. In 2011, though, it fell on hard times, was closed and auctioned off.
New owner Alan Petsche initially purchased the property as a real estate investment — but as a native of Arlington, he ultimately decided he wanted the restaurant's legacy to continue.
"It's such a historical place," said Darrell Wood, who operates the restaurants Petsche owns. "There are so many memories of the Candlelite Inn — you know generational, family after family after family. So [Petsche] just decided we're going to take it all the way down to three walls and we're going to rebuild the whole thing."
Over the past 18 months they've completely rebuilt the restaurant, restoring the dining room and adding a new banquet room and kitchen area. Builders incorporated many pieces of the old restaurant into the new restaurant — some wood work, the benches, and murals.
"We actually had our chairs custom-made, so they would be identical to the chairs our guests were used to seeing," said Wood.
For Morris it was a homecoming of sorts.
"It's like the whole Cheers thing, you know?" said Morris. "You want to go where everybody knows your name, right? That's how it is here."
He's been eating at the restaurant for as long as he can remember and even proposed to his wife there.
"I love it," said Morris. "I love the fact they kept it basically the same."
Joe McBee's aunt and uncle were the original owners of the Candlelite Inn. He said he wasn't going to miss this day for the world.
"I'm very proud to see it reopened," said McBee. "It almost brings tears to my eyes. It's a happy feeling."
Petsche and his team said it's a privilege to help keep these memories alive and they hope many new memories will be made at the Candlelite Inn in the years to come.
The Candlelite Inn is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.