SLATER, Iowa -- On Saturday, Slater saw one of its iconic, local stops burn down. Cole’s Ice Cream Shop was severely damaged after a meat smoker caught fire, but people are now stepping up to make sure the restaurant that has a deeper meaning gets back up and running.
Owning Cole’s Ice Cream Shop for three decades, David Sturdy has many memories there with his son, Brandon.
“He was 4-years-old,” Sturdy said. “Me and him ran this place and we’d watch movies and it was a good time.” But 15 years ago it all stopped. Brandon died serving his country as a Marine in Iraq.
“When my son died in 2004, I closed down for 10 to 11 years,” Sturdy said.
It eventually reopened, in Brandon’s honor. The Slater restaurant started becoming a famous stop for everyone, from politicians to young kids.
“I wanted to stick out,” Sturdy said. “I have little kids who come in here and say they want to go to the Star Wars place and they come from 20 miles away.”
That's the way things were until the fire ended it all.
“I was really depressed,” Sturdy said. “But now with the spirit of the folks, I am uplifted.”
The restaurant is iconic, unique, and 100 percent Iowan. Slater residents say there’s nothing quite like Cole’s Ice Cream Shop. That is why many are coming together to make sure the famous tenderloins are made once again.
“We make some good food. Real proud of it,” Sturdy said. “It was my son’s recipe, Brandon’s recipe, and we continue it in his honor.”
“Lot of love in the food, lot of love in the preparation,” Mark Eckhoff said. In return, Sturdy is getting a lot of love from the people who are cleaning up and reaching out for more help.
“Slater does not turn their back on their own. We help each other,” Mary Akin said.
“That’s how Iowans are,” Eckhoff said. “I think this place is going to get opened up a lot quicker than what people think it will.”
There’s still a long road ahead for Cole’s, but if there’s one thing keeping Sturdy going, it’s Brandon’s Marine flag still flying, despite the fire. He sees it as a sign that Cole’s will be back.
“I’ll work until, I’ll work until I get it done,” Sturdy said.
Sturdy says there’s some issues with his insurance because of some problems with his Ansul System, that’s supposed to extinguish fires. Most of the repairs will come out of pocket. That is why he is asking for volunteers to donate time or supplies. There is also a GoFundMe set up.