Restaurant recovers from fire

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2003

The Wilsons certainly have something to be thankful for this year. Their restaurant, the Crow's Nest, is open again. Less than two weeks after a fire severely damaged the back cooking area of the popular Andalusia eatery, the doors have been opened and the clientele returned.

Actually, some of the clientele returned before the restaurant, owned by Judy Wilson and her children, reopened, and they are the reason it has opened so soon.

"We had some good friends to help," said Wilson of the rebuilding process. The good friends - and family, since her children Kelly and Cody dove right in to help - managed to get the kitchens back in working order in record time. The job was made that much more difficult by the fact that there was no insurance to pave the way financially.

"It was one of those corners we cut back when the road construction was going on and business was down," said Wilson, "Looking back, I guess we shouldn't have."

The fire cost the business two commercial coolers, an ice maker, two commercial microwaves, kitchen utensils, and the air conditioning unit, which was destroyed when the fire struck the freon inside and ignited into a large fireball.

The restaurant is set up in three sections, with the front being the dining lobby, the mid

dle being the main kitchen, and the third - and most damaged section - being the screened in area in which they barbecued and grilled. The fire began when the lid of the large grill was accidentally left up too long.

"It was real windy that day, the fire just took off," said Wilson. "It was one of those things."

While the fire did not reach the middle section, the heat did, and much was destroyed.

"The fire was so hot in there, it melted the blades off the fans," said Wilson. It also damaged the ceiling, which has been replaced.

There was no damage at all in the lobby, and Wilson credits the fire department.

"They did a real good job of keeping it contained," she said, adding that neither the middle nor front sections of the building suffered water damage either." They kept it from destroying the whole thing."

The Wilsons began the Crow's Nest almost six years ago, but by then, she and her husband Bobby - whose nickname is Crow -were used to feeding extra people.

"People coming over to eat with us would say 'Let's eat the Crow's Nest'," she said, explaining how the restaurant got its name.

Bobby, who gives all ownership of the venture to his wife and children, said he just hangs around to help out wherever he can, but according to his wife, they both worked together to come up with their secret barbecue recipe.

The restaurant, which is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and until 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, offers much more than barbecue, however, having recently added breakfast to the menu. The lunch and dinner offerings include everything from rib-eye steaks to catfish, hamburgers, cheeseburger, and of course, lots and lots of barbecue. They also have "Crowburgers" and "Crow feet," but diners shouldn't be alarmed.

"The Crowburger is a cheeseburger on Texas toast," said Wilson. "And the Crow Feet are potato wedges."

She thanked everyone who had called to express concern over the fire, and especially the fire department and those who showed up to help. She invites everyone out to the reopened restaurant, where they can enjoy the Western ambiance, and where the smell of burning building has been replaced with the aroma of slow-cooking barbecue.