GIBSON CITY, Ill. (WCIA) — A Gibson City family is mourning the loss of a business they started in honor of their late brother.
“Tears, after a while just numb,” said Kelly Steenbergen, owner of Jay’s Place.
The Fourth of July was supposed to be a joyous holiday weekend, but it became a disaster for Steenbergen as she watched her bar burn to the ground.
Her brother Jay was her business partner when they owned Sammers 2.
“In honor of him, we opened Jay’s place,” Steenbergen said. “We built how he wanted. We brought a lot of memorabilia that he had and put it in the bar.”
Not only did she lose years of hard work to get Jay’s Place up and running, but she lost all her late brother’s memorabilia.
“Everything that we had worked for and put into, long, long hours, things like that, but you know, gone, up in smoke, flames,” Steenbergen said.
Jay’s Place was not the only family business damaged in the flames.
“Our family has owned this since 1956,” said Jim Hood, owner of Ace Hardware. “Everything in the building is covered in heavy soot. Kind of nasty and smells bad.”
Hood said their once pearly white floors are unrecognizable and they are waiting to hear from an engineer on the safety of the walls.
“We have a three-brick wall we share with Jay’s Place,” Hood said. “It took some damage.”
Despite the damage to downtown Gibson City, both Steenbergen and Hood said they are thankful for the first responders and their community and that no one was hurt.
“We had so many people come and ask how they can help; we didn’t have any jobs for them,” Hood said.
“I just can’t say thanks enough to everybody,” Steenbergen said.