The smell of ash and smoke were the first smells I noticed when walking into Judy’s Kitchen Thursday morning. Normally, wafts of fried chicken, hamburgers, and fresh baked goods invade one's nose when walking into the restaurant. But, not on this day.
On the morning of June 13, Danny Roberts, a cook for Judy’s Kitchen in Cerro Gordo called 91--1 at approximately 9:17 a.m. to report a fire in the building and escorted out all workers. He then went to move his vehicle as well as notify others.
“Well, we smelled smoke and was looking for it. Found it. I locked the front door, had everyone get out,” said Roberts.
Bobbie Schafer, daughter of Judy Tuvell, the owner of Judy’s Kitchen stated, “man, when I pulled up, I couldn’t believe the flames coming out.” She had left the restaurant temporarily to pick up supplies from the local Dollar General.
Judy’s Kitchen opened up in Cerro Gordo in 2002. They originally opened in Mt. Zionin 1997. It sits at 219 E. South St., off the “main street” in town along with several small businesses, including the village hall.
Cerro Gordo, Cisco, and, Argenta-Oreana firemen, and the Decatur Ambulance responded immediately to the scene. The fire is still under investigation.
One of the walk-in freezers is more than likely a complete loss. There is damage above the restaurant, as well as water and smoke damage.However, the customer side of the restaurant appears to be fine other than a little water and smoke damage. Fortunately no customers were present at the time.
Employees salvaged what food was leftover and donated and delivered it to the Good Samaritan Inn in Decatur.
Denise Roberts, also a daughter of Tuvel, vowed Judy's Kitchen would be open again as soon as possible.
“We have seen a whole generation grow up and we hope that we can be back in business as soon as we can.”
She got a bit emotional remembering all the benefits Judy’s has thrown. Typically, every Sunday there is a need addressed by offering a buffet brunch of sorts.
“We are supposed to have a benefit for somebody this weekend.”
Syd Morganthaler a villager and former employee aided, comforted Denise Roberts at the scene.
“This entire community wants to know what you need to do. Clean up, fundraising, come up here and cheer and serve meals, whatever needs to be done. I mean the entire community Denise,” said Morganthaler.
“Let's look at our blessings okay. All of these irreplaceable photographs, fine. Your artwork, fine. All the things that are irreplaceable are okay. Everything else is replaceable,” she added.