RED WING -- One week after a speeding car crashed into Liberty’s Restaurant, bringing down chunks of the historic building, a work crew has launched the process of rebuilding and restoring.
“They call it selective demolition,” said owner Doug Noreen. “They are jackhammering a bunch of the loose brick and taking it down bit by bit. They will get everything torn back to a certain point, then they will start shoring it up and reconstructing. This is a huge relief for a lot of people.”
Six restaurant employees, two cleaners, and four of five apartment renters were in the building when the accident occurred on Wednesday, Sept. 2, about half an hour before closing time, according to Noreen. He said that employees are being compensated by the restaurant’s insurance companies, but he is not sure if that compensation includes the equivalent of tip wages for servers.
“There is a donation page with quite a bit of money in it,” Noreen said. “That will help subsidize the renters. They are literally without a home right now. Only one of the five renters had renter’s insurance, so we’ll use some of that money to help get those guys situated for stays at hotels or wherever they have to go.”
Noreen said he spent Tuesday helping the renters. One could not get access to his laptop and some family heirlooms because those items were located in a part of the building that was too dangerous to enter.
“I brought in a roof rake, a snow rake, and we literally pulled the stuff to the doorway where we could stand safely,” Noreen said. “We got all of his stuff out.”
Community takes action
Response from the community has been positive, according to Noreen, with people offering to help clean up or offering to provide business space while the reconstruction takes place.
“The feedback is so amazing. It is so positive,” he said. “It is overwhelming, and it has brought me to tears several times. Today alone I got choked up three or four times.”
The free Concert to Celebrate Liberty’s Restaurant will start at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13, in Central Park. People are encouraged to donate to help Liberty's with all its plans.
Noreen said one group of customers has come to Liberty’s every Tuesday night to eat and talk. They call themselves the Beer and Banter Boys, and after the accident, they contacted Noreen and offered to take him, his family, and his employees to a park for a picnic. When the weather turned bad Tuesday night, they moved the venue to the Elks’ Club.
“I said we would help cook, that’s what we do, but they said it was their time to serve us,” Noreen said. “It was the first time that my employees got together since this happened, and I got a chance to talk to the whole group and tell them where we were and what the plans are for the rebuilding process.”
Noreen said he has long viewed his employees as a team, as a family, and at the end of the dinner, the group gathered in front of the debris at the restaurant and took a group photo.
“I’ve always said that we are a family restaurant out front, and we are a family restaurant in the back,” he said. “We cry together. We laugh together. We have fun together. There were a lot of hugs and a lot of tears last night, but we’ll get through this as a family, and we’ll get through this as a team.”
What: Concert to Celebrate Liberty’s Restaurant
Who: Sawyer’s Dream - MCs are Sean Dowse and Russell Johnson
Where: Central Park
When: Sunday, Sept. 13 Universal Music Center students will play at 3:30 and Sawyer’s Dream will play at 4:00 p.m.
Donations: May be made to a donation page set up by Red Wing Downtown Main Street at downtownredwing.networkforgood.com/projects/108375-liberty-s-restaurant-fund.