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Aftermath: grief and uncertainty

No more Rolling Rock.

Timothy Bell and Mike Deary, who unknowingly made their last delivery of the smooth-drinking brew to Friar Tuck’s Restaurant & Bar last week, visited the corner of Pine and Commercial streets Thursday afternoon for one last glimpse of the Nevada City landmark.

“We’d deliver Rolling Rock every other week. It’s sad … because they’ve got a great atmosphere and great food. We’ll be missing the place for sure,” Bell said. He stood behind orange fencing that kept the curious away from firefighters and investigators digging through the rubble of the estimated $3 million worth of damage.



As crews doused hot spots and smoky piles, those with close ties to Friar Tuck’s, the adjoining Off Broadstreet theater and the Herb Shop record and gift store on the ground floor lamented the past and wondered about the future of a Nevada City without some of its major landmarks.

The county Probation Department above the restaurant was also heavily damaged.




Directly across the street from the restaurant and theater, Off Broadstreet technician John Arbaugh sorted through electrical cords, wet spotlights and costumes, most of which were undamaged.

Crates of unopened wine bottles lay nearby.

“We’ll make it through. We’ll survive. I’m more upset about the whole thing because we were like a family,” said Arbaugh, a two-year employee of the theater.

If you were anywhere near Nevada City Thursday, it was hard not to steal a parting glance at the old buildings and reminisce.

“I just came over here for sentimental reasons,” said Doris Daniels of Cedar Ridge. “It’s just hard to watch your livelihood go up in flames.”

Grass Valley resident Nyla Haddy estimated she had eaten and drank at Friar Tuck’s “hundreds” of times since it opened more than a 25 years ago.

“My kids have had Valentine’s dates there; I’ve had divorces, anniversaries, proms, everything there,” Haddy said as she stood across the street.

She’ll never forget the neighborly atmosphere of the place, dark and filled with thousands of wine bottles, she said.

“If you were new in town, it was like going home. Everyone treated you like family,” Haddy said.

Her Stray Cats and Co. salon is offering free haircuts to the displaced workers.

“It’s probably better for them to have money to buy food, but you should at least look good doing it,” she said.

For the more than 30 displaced Friar Tuck’s employees, Wednesday seemed surreal 24 hours later.

“I feel kind of lost,” said cook Kim Monroe, who began as a dishwasher 21/2 years ago. “I’m walking around thinking, ‘What am I going to do?'”

Monroe cooked for a full house the night before the blaze. She, like other employees, hopes to return to the restaurant, which owners Greg and Rona Cook hope to reopen.

“I’d love to come back. If you’re a hard worker and you hang in there, they’ll give you a chance,” Monroe said.

Greg Cook, 51, said he’s “absolutely” committed to reopening the restaurant.

“We’re going to tear that thing down and build it back up,” he said. He discounted rumors that he might relocate to the former Scheidel’s at Alta Sierra Drive and Highway 49 or to a former brewery near Deer Creek downtown.

Cook also refuted notions the fire began in a pile of smoldering rags in the downstairs laundry a few days before.

“It’s unbelievable how many rumors are flying around,” he said.

Buried in the rubble of his restaurant is a log with bookings for the next several months, as well as some of the thousands of bottles of wine.

“I can see a bottle of vodka of mine, but I can’t even get close to it,” he joked.

For now, the long ride that began with the bar’s opening on Dec. 26, 1973, is over.

“It was a lot of trips to Bonanza Market because we kept running out of food,” Cook said of the first night, but insisted he and his employees will be back. “If I could open tomorrow, I’d do it.”

“The brick and mortar is gone, but it’s the spirit and the people who will live on.”

FTC matinee benefits fire victims

Foothill Theatre Company has added a special Saturday matinee benefit performance of the musical 3Little Shop of Horrors² at 2 p.m. on March 30 for the victims of the Nevada City blaze. The theater is at 401 Broad St., Nevada City.

Admission will be on a pay-what-you-wish basis, and all proceeds will go to the soon-to-be-established fund to help the victims. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and tickets will go on sale at noon the day of the performance.

Admission will be on a pay-what-you-wish basis, and all proceeds will go to the soon-to-be-established fund to help the victims. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis, and tickets will go on sale at noon the day of the performance.


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