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The Wagon Wheel Reaches the End of the Road

MONTICELLO, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- People in Monticello are saying what might be their last goodbyes to a favorite hangout in town. The Wagon Wheel restaurant was badly damaged Saturday in a fire.

People have been slowing down as they drive by all day long, some taking pictures, others just pointing out parts of the building to their friends and family. To say the wagon wheel was a restaurant wouldn't be false, but it's definitely not the whole story.

Among the burned debris and damaged walls it turns out the memories from The Wagon Wheel are a lot harder to destroy than the building.

"We had a lot of fun out here, my wife and I did," said Bud Coyle as he and his daughter took pictures of the burned building before it's torn down. Bud says his wife passed away a few years ago.

"We actually had our wedding rehearsal dinner here," said Becky Dirks Haugsted, who grew up in Monticello before joining the Marines.

"There were a lot of regulars who came out here and my mom and dad used to come out here all the time," said Lori Jensen, Bud's daughter.

What's left of the community gathering place, where you could run into your best friends, or people you hadn't seen in a while, still drew a crowd one day after it burned.

"You're always greeted with a smile," said Dirks Haugsted. "Even the people who were there greeted you with, 'Hello, how you doing?"

Goodbye wasn't far away.

The family who owns the restaurant says it was due to close down on October 7th. The owner, who ran it for roughly 35 years was looking to retire. His family says they won't rebuild

"It was one of those places where everybody kind of knew everybody at," said Dirks Haugsted.

But now, The sign that once told driver about the daily specials, has a message of a different sort: "Say bye to Wagon Wheel."

"You get a connection to a place like this and it's kind of hard to find a replacement," said Dirks Haugsted. "You go to another place but it's not really replaced."

"We'll have to find a new place to go I guess," said Coyle.

Neighbors say the owners adult children worked here part time, in addition to full time jobs of their own. They're also not sure exactly what's going to happen next to the building or the land.

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