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Rock Cafe Owner Looks Back at Fire, Remembers

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It has been a year since the Rock Café was destroyed by a fire. It has been a year since the Rock Café was destroyed by a fire.
The rebuilding process was difficult because there were no blueprints, but only pictures of the restaurant before the fire. The rebuilding process was difficult because there were no blueprints, but only pictures of the restaurant before the fire.
Rock Café owner Dawn Welch found these light switch covers from the 1940s that are replicas of the ones before the fire. Rock Café owner Dawn Welch found these light switch covers from the 1940s that are replicas of the ones before the fire.
By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

STROUD, Oklahoma -- It's an Oklahoma icon along Route 66, the Rock Café in Stroud.

But a massive fire last May threatened to put the restaurant forever in the history books. From the ashes rose a determination to preserve the past and create a future.

Wednesday marks the one year anniversary of that devastating fire. For the restaurant's owner it hasn't been easy, but she felt there was no option but to rebuild.

"Every aspect of this was a challenge," owner Dawn Welch said. "We had no plans."

But Welch and her crew have spent the last several months overcoming challenges. Left with only four walls and a concrete floor, they've rebuilt Rock Café from the inside out.

Her attachment to the 70-year-old building comes from her love for Route 66 and the people who travel it. The charm of the mother road is why Welch wanted Rock Café to look exactly the same.

And sandstone rock was found to match the original ones. Even light switch covers took some investigative work.

"We had no blueprints and no drawings, so all I could go by was the photos from the fire and before the fire and reconstruct it from that," David Burke with David Burke Historic Preservation said.

"We just found some little treasures and kept them," Welch said.

Like an old broom that survived the fire, the treasures will now be on display as part of the new chapter in Rock Café's history.

"I tell people every single day, young people that come up here, people that are rolling down Route 66 trying to find inspiration for their own lives, find something you love and do that, and if at all, being able to keep that; never give up on that dream," Welch said.

The Rock Café opens for tours this Friday for Memorial Day weekend. The Café's official grand reopening is set for the following Friday, May 29.

Welch has written a cookbook, "Dollars to Donuts" and is due out November 10, but it can be pre-ordered right now on Amazon.com.

Welch is also waiting to see if she'll get her own cooking show. It's currently being shopped around to different networks.

Welch has already appeared on the Food Network's show "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives."

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