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'Praying for strength': Eighteen 36 restaurant remembers Anitra Gunn

Thursday was the first day the restaurant was open since learning of Anitra Gunn's death.

FORT VALLEY, Ga. — Eighteen 36 Restaurant owner Kelvin Blalock says when he hired Anitra Gunn back in October, he knew she would fit right in with the team.

"The first thing that hit me about Anitra was her smile. I don't know if you've heard that, but her smile would light up a room," he says.

Blalock said she was scheduled to work on Valentine's Day afternoon, and it was unlike her not to call ahead when she missed her shift.

"I was doing paperwork over the weekend and I saw her paycheck. We got paid last week. She was supposed to get paid last Friday like everyone else," he says.

Also on that shift was Brittney Gay, who says she and Gunn were close friends.

"When you come to work, it's so good to be able to come to work and be able to talk to coworkers past work. You're comfortable talking about everyday life, just personal stuff," says Gay.

Gay says at the beginning of every shift, the team prays together, but Thursday's prayer was a little different.

"We were praying for strength to get through the shift. Usually, we're praying to have a good day here, period, it's all about the customer, but today, not saying nobody wants to come to work, but it's hard."

Gay says they did have some workers call out Thursday, and their work family may never be the same. "Somebody else has been stripped from us who we're used to seeing every day when we come to work. Now, it's like, 'OK, how are we going to get over this?'"

Blalock says he may get a picture of Gunn hung up inside of the restaurant in her memory.

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