Gus and Tony’s, Waukon mainstay before fire, hopes to reopen

Published: Feb. 2, 2021 at 11:52 PM CST
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WAUKON, Iowa (KCRG) - Nearly a year ago, a fire burned down a family-owned business in Waukon, in the northeast corner of Iowa.

In a town with only a few thousand people, neighbors said, at the time, that the Feb. 10, 2020, fire at Gus and Tony’s Pizza and Steakhouse left a big hole in their world. Now the family that owned the original restaurant is hoping to bring it back.

While the charred edge of the building next door is the only reminder of that day that is still visible, Drew and Christie Bell said people haven’t forgotten the restaurant that stood in the now snow-covered lot for years.

Fire crews work to put out the smoke at Gus and Tony's on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 in Waukon...
Fire crews work to put out the smoke at Gus and Tony's on Monday, Feb. 10, 2020 in Waukon (Maggie Wedlake/KCRG)(KCRG)

“A day hasn’t gone by when we’re not asked when it’s coming back,” Drew Bell said.

Drew’s dad, Dave, ran the restaurant for decades, and both Drew and Christie, his wife, worked there.

“Ever since I was in junior high, I just wanted to do the same thing he did and try to give back like he did,” Drew said. “So I’m just hoping I can do the same thing.”

Now the Bells are trying to bring Gus and Tony’s back. They have started a GoFundMe to raise money for new equipment and for a new location after the fire destroyed just about everything.

“We still have all of our knowledge, all of our recipes — everything Gus and Tony’s, other than what we really need to do that right now,” Christie said.

It’s a destination in Waukon where they say customers were like family.

“We knew who they were when we heard their voice on the other end of the phone, before they even had to say their name, or just by their order,” Christie said.

Drew and Christie hope to also make it a place where their own children, 9-year-old Mason and 5-year-old Avery, can grow up, just like Drew did at the original restaurant, and keep the tradition going for another 40 years.

“Show them what it’s like to be a part of a community,” Drew said.

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