Fire guts Route 66 landmark cafe in Stroud

Wednesday, May 21st 2008, 11:51 am
By: News 9

Associated Press

STROUD, Okla. -- A Lincoln County landmark along historic Route 66 is in ruins. The Rock Café in Stroud was gutted after fire ripped through the building.

The owner said she may be down but she's not out.

This is a devastating loss for the entire town of Stroud. The restaurant has been in business for nearly 70 years. But the owners are vowing to rebuild.

The water in Stroud still flows, but it came too late to douse the fire at the Rock Café.

"It's just a special thing; the Rock, the Rock," Stroud resident Helen Wallace said.

The historic landmark has been a true ‘rock' in Stroud since 1939. But Tuesday night, fire reduced the place to a pile of rubble; all that's left standing are the walls.

"I'm just hoping that the integrity of the four walls don't come down," Rock Café owner Dawn Welch said.

Welch took over the restaurant nearly 15 years ago.

She was there to see it added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001. The building was filled with memorabilia that can never be replaced.

"I've kept a picture diary of the Rock Café; all those pictures are lost," Welch said. "A lot of celebrity pictures, and those things were lost."

Fire investigators are carefully going through the rubble trying to figure out what happened.

"We're just trying to take piece by piece, not to compromise the actual structure," Oklahoma State Fire Marshal, Jeremy Robbins said.

The restaurant also made history with the release of Disney and Pixar's movie "Cars."

The character Sally is believed to be based on Welch.

Despite the tremendous loss, Welch said the Rock will rise again.

"For me personally, and my family and everybody that's ever been involved with the Rock Café, I'm not going to let a fire be the last thing said at the Rock Café," Welch said.

But one longtime fan of the Rock is a bit skeptical.

"They might be able to reduplicate it, but still to me it won't be the same," one resident said.

The fire marshal is looking at surveillance video taken from a convenience store across the street to see if it yields any answers on the cause of the fire.

Some of the famous names, who visited the Rock, include singer Robert Plant, comedian Flip Wilson and actress Geena Davis.