Posted: Dec 7, 2012 12:32 PM by Elise Oggioni
Updated: Dec 10, 2012 7:17 AM
MACON COUNTY - A fire that devastated the historic Pear Tree Restaurant in Bevier on November 29th is still raising questions about the future of the small town as well as the local economy.
Many residents said all of Bevier's history was lost in the fire that also consumed the Black Diamond Antique Shop. They also told KOMU 8 News they think "the town will fall apart" without the restaurant.
Randy Julius, a Bevier resident said while the town may be small, the restaurant brought in people from all across Missouri, from St. Louis to Kansas City.
"You could go many, many places in the state of Missouri, tell them you're from Bevier, Missouri and they'll look at you and say, 'oh, home of the Pear Tree'," Julius said.
He said, as a business owner, a devastating fire is something no one can really prepare for and is something "you don't think about until it happens, and once it happens, you understand how important it really was."
Macon County Economic Development Director Denise Bennett told KOMU 8 News the impact this fire has goes deeper than just losing a good place to eat in town.
"Not only do the residents lose an icon and a restaurant, there are artifacts from the museum that can't be brought back," Bennett said.
Bennett estimates Missouri tourism will also be affected by the devastation, and told KOMU 8 News there were often organized trips planned throughout Missouri that included stops at the Pear Tree restaurant.
"A very common trip into Bevier includes bringing buses into Macon, to the theatre and the winery and then The Pear Tree, so you get a package deal," Bennett said.
Officials said it may be months before they could compose any concrete evidence that the economy and business in Bevier has been affected. But Macon County Presiding Commissioner said the number probably should be focusing on right now is the amount of jobs that may be lost because of this fire.
"There's a lot of that restaurant so those jobs, you know, are kinda up in the air right now because I, I don't know that they've made a decision what they're going to do or will do in the future," Wyatt said.
Wyatt also told KOMU 8 News he is confident that the town of Bevier will be "just fine" whether or not the Pear Tree is rebuilt in Bevier.
Owners are still discussing whether or not to rebuild the restaurant in Bevier, but officials said a final decision may not be made public until January or February. The owners are planning on keeping the restaurant local if they do decide to rebuild.
Bennett said she is confident the decision will be the best for the community as well as the owners.
"They are a very resilient family, and whatever they do going forward will be a great thing," Bennett said.
The Pear Tree Online Store has not been affected by any of the devastation, since the distribution center is located in St. Louis.