Beloved Douglass Country Store and Cafe burns to the ground

DOUGLASS, TX (KTRE) - The small community of Douglass is mourning the loss of their town hub, the Douglass Country Store and Cafe.

Douglass residents call it a true local landmark and now the building with more than 100 years of memories is no more.

Jan Boyer works as the manager for the store and cafe. She says she is from New Orleans and moved to Douglass after hurricane Katrina and the town adopted her.

"For our local community it's more than just a restaurant," said Boyer. "It's where they solve the world's problems. Where they meet to gossip. They help each other with their ranching issues. It's more than just where they come. And to the employees it's more than just a job. It's our home. More than our own home is most of the times. We're here more often than we are at our own home."

Bill Cummings and his wife bought the restaurant from his wife's family just one month ago but the building has been in the family for generations. Cummings says the building was built in the early 1900s and has served as a gas station and expanded into a store and a restaurant.

"We had fish fries on Friday nights," said Cummings. "We made the best hamburgers in East Texas."

Cummings says around 3:00 PM Saturday afternoon the kitchen caught fire while two employees were working. Cummings says he believes the fire started when an electrical socket shorted out near the grill and caught fire.

The fire spread quickly because there was hot grease near the grill. The Douglass Volunteer Fire Department is just across TX-21 so they were able to get to the scene quickly and witnesses say it took about an hour to get the blaze under control.

"There was an employee right there close when it happened," said Cummings. "The wall just kind of exploded. I ran out to turn the gas meter off. I surely didn't want no gas escaping so I did that first thing by the time I got in there in 2 or 3 minutes it was done."

Fortunately nobody was injured in the fire.

All that's left of the Douglass Corner Store and Cafe is piles of rubble and ash. Volunteers, family, friends and community members are all chipping in to help clean up the mess.

"The whole community, people who are not fire fighters, it didn't matter," said Boyer. "People who just eat here, they were all helping one another. It was a joy and a heart ache all at the same time.

Cummings says they have served their last hamburger for a while but they are not going to give up hope.

The entire building was completely destroyed. Cummings says he is unsure at this point of whether or not he and his wife will rebuild.

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