David Sturdy was a happy and very grateful man Monday.
He talked about the indebtedness he feels toward so many businesses and people who helped him rebuild his business, Cole’s, following a devastating fire in early April. That fire started on a Saturday afternoon when an outside smoker caught a nearby shed on fire and then spread to the east side of Sturdy’s main building. This past Saturday, Cole’s re-opened.
“To all the people (who helped), thank you so much. You’ve lifted my spirits and helped keep me going,” Sturdy said. From business people stopping in and offering him donations, to business people from a variety of places who came to help with cleanup efforts in that first week, Sturdy said the generous spirit of others has overwhelmed him.
He realized he couldn’t thank them all, but wanted to give a shout out to a few of the businesses and people who got him through the period of cleanup and reconstruction.
Stephanie Auld Reynolds, who Study said has a great cake business in the local area, started a GoFundMe page for Cole’s. “Good people like that, you want to reward,” he said.
Hendrickson Construction, out of Des Moines, and his buddy Charlie there, he said, are a big part of his re-opening.
Diamond Vogel Paint of Des Moines, “a friend there donated paint,” he said.
His close neighbor, right across the street, at B Fabulous BBQ, was incredibly helpful when the fire erupted, running over to assist him.
Ballard Heating and Cooling, “they’re just great. They donated a lot,” Sturdy said.
Then there were other little “hole in the wall” type eating places, like his, that did fundraisers or donated funds to help one of their own. Those include Fat Randi’s of Van Meter and Starbuck’s Drive-In of Nevada.
Sturdy has already started a wall of recognition for all those who helped him in any way. He’ll hang up their business flyers or put names of people up in some way along that wall to honor them for helping him make his way back.
In an article published by the Tri-County Times back in May of 2017, Sturdy shared some history about his sandwich and ice cream shop:
It was the ’50s or ’60s…when the corner shop went from gas station to ice cream shop, and most owners operated it as an ice cream shop (many will recall that it was called Dairy Sweet for a time), until Sturdy’s (older) son introduced more food to the establishment…
The place is now called Cole’s, he said, because he wants his younger son to have it someday; hoping to keep it a classic family restaurant in years to come. In the meantime, he’ll run it and bring his son along when he can, so he gradually learns everything there is to know about the place. “I’m here,” he adds, “because I ain’t going to sit on the couch and die of a heart attack just sitting there. I’m here doing something I love (for people that he loves).”
Sturdy also shared in that article about his support of veterans and why he is committed to that cause, which has to do with his oldest son, Brandon Sturdy, who was a Special Operations Marine and was tragically killed in action in Iraq in 2004 at the age of 19:
Brandon created the recipe for the tenderloin, and now his father is the only one who has that recipe… After Brandon was killed… (Sturdy) had to close the place for about 11 years. “I had to work. I was a heavy equipment operator,” and he needed to work long enough to secure his pension. And when he did, then Sturdy came back to open the restaurant, giving a part of its profits every month to the Wounded Warrior Project, a charity and veterans service organization that offers a variety of programs, services and events for wounded veterans of the military actions. It was started following the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001.
“I support Wounded Warriors in his honor,” Sturdy said.
It was fitting that in only its third day of being back open following the fire, a National Guard member, Tyler Pasut of Ames, just happened to stop in for a tenderloin and a shake. Sturdy got right to work, pounding Pasut out a tenderloin and watching over it as it cooked. Was Pasut glad to see the place open again? “Very much so,” he said.
Sturdy looked around and declared that the re-opened restaurant was better than ever. All the work that has taken place, he said, “gives you fresh ideas, fresh paint, gets rid of a few problems … it’s like a brand new building.”