Iconic bar burns
The owners of Red's Place don't know if they'll rebuild
August 28, 2013
The interior of Red’s Place in Breda sustained heavy damage following a fire early Wednesday morning. The century-old bar, which featured secret storage areas used during Prohibition, were destroyed in the blaze that was reported at 5:40 a.m. Investigators were on the scene late this morning to determine the cause of the fire.
Red's Place, in its 100th year as the town's gathering spot, with its sweeping mahogany bar and laid-back folk, was gutted by a fire this morning.
The downtown bar hosted countless community parties and celebrations and was often packed with cyclists who rode from Carroll and Lake View and others who drove from farther away.
The bar was so packed at times that people who sat and drank and chatted near the front preferred to walk outside, around the block and through an alley to get to the bathroom in the back of the bar.
But today, the historic photos and the cash register - which dates to the 1890s - and other irreplaceable mementos were twisted and charred by heat and smoke.
One passerby summed it up this morning:
"This day sucks."
Residents rolled past with consolatory faces in cars and trucks and pointed their cellphone cameras to share the misery with friends. A woman mouthed "Sorry, guys" to the owners, Russ and Bruce Boes, who stood outside, waiting to glimpse the demise of the business they've owned for 26 years.
Soggy sheetrock lay on the ground, and ceiling fan blades sagged. A fryer sat outside the building still smoking from the heat.
Russ Boes, who managed the bar's day-to-day dealings and was known for the Jell-O shots he made, could say little about the loss as he fought tears.
Bruce Boes consoled his son and daughter, who as infants bounced on the bar as their parents worked. Son Riley carried his first empty beer case as a toddler. Bruce's ex-wife, Angie, said she changed the kids' diapers on the pool table in back.
"They were raised in this bar," Angie Boes said. "It's a huge loss."
A man who walked to work this morning saw smoke coming from the back of Red's Place and reported the fire about 5:40 a.m.
Firefighters saw no flames when they arrived a short time later, but the smoke inside was thick, said Paul Riedell, the assistant Breda fire chief.
They broke out windows and cut a hole near the roof to extinguish the fire, he said. Red-hot embers caused small flare-ups for several hours after.
Fire investigators examined the damage about 10 a.m. and had not officially determined its cause this morning, but Riedell said the fire apparently started in the floor, which is most often points to faulty electrical wiring.
"There was nothing else down there that could have started it," he said.
The Boes brothers bought the bar in 1987 from the bar's namesake, "Red" Brinker, whose father started the business as Brinker's Cafe in 1913.
The 20-foot-long bar back had so-called "prohibition drawers," or secret hiding places for whiskey.
"It was like no other," Bruce Boes said. "But it's done. It's cooked. It's fried."
Bruce Boes was a farmer, and Bruce was still in college, when the Brinker family offered to sell the bar after Red died. The Boes brothers kept the name, but it became their legacy. They weren't sure whether they'll rebuild it.
Two Manning cyclists who rode this morning from Carroll to Red's Place - where they often stopped for water or beer, depending on the time of day - were shocked that the Breda mainstay could meet such an abrupt demise.
"It's a huge blow to the community," said Julie Bauer, who herself is a bar owner of Third and Main in Manning. "This is where people got together. It's heartbreaking."
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