‘It’s like a nightmare’: Iowa café owner hopes to rebuild after fire

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HAWARDEN, Iowa (KCAU) — When Jen McVay, the owner of Central Café in Hawarden, Iowa, woke up to a call from the fire department Sunday morning, she was devastated. Her café had burned down and she went to see the damage.

“It’s like a nightmare,” McVay said. “I can’t believe it. I’m in shock.”

Locals say the loss is heartbreaking. A customer service representative at Peoples Ban, Carol Gregg, says the café built a special bond with Siouxlanders in northwest Iowa.

“They literally treat them like gold,” Gregg said. “They ask how they’re doing. I’ve seen them bring birthday gifts for an older person who has no family around, fix her favorite food. It’s more than just a café for sure.”

Kathleen Leitru is a dental hygienist at Family 1st Dental. She and her co-workers would go to the café multiple times each week and she says the place will be deeply missed.

“It’s devastating,” Leitru said. “We know the people that work there. They actually knew what we wanted before we even ordered, so yeah, we feel bad for them and the whole town really.”

McVay says she hopes to rebuild the café. She started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the project.

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