Penns Mobil is up and running after a fire back in 2015, caused by static electricity, burned the auto shop down to the ground.
“In 20 minutes I realized it’s gone,” said owner Robert Khayat.
Khayat thought this was the end of his long-time running family business.
“When the fire happened, at that point right away I said I’m done, I’m not going to build it again,” said Khayat.
But it was his most loyal customers, that changed his mind.
“When the phone calls came in, and customers were asking where should we go? Oh my god. That hit me the hardest. That hit me, believe it or not, and I’m not exaggerating, that hit me harder than the fire,” said Khayat.
Farai Musandipa was working on the car that caught fire, and says it all just happened so fast.
“I remember it was a cold day, like an ordinary day, but then the fire started and it just spread so fast, I tried to put it out. I thought we would have been able to,” said Musandipa.
It’s taken the small business two and a half years to rebuild, and about the same amount of time for Musandipa to bounce back from the fire.
“At some point after the fire my confidence was kind of down and I go, maybe I am not a good mechanic or I didn’t know what I was doing, and the showing of support from people has just been positive,” said Musandipa.
In fact , Khayat believes he wouldn’t be back in business if it wasn’t for the community.
“It was overwhelming. We were very very pleased with the customer support and I’ll tell you what, the State College community is amazing.”
Khayat said they already have more new customers than their existing customers in just the 10 days they have reopened. So he is feeling optimistic about the future.