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Popular Butler County restaurant most likely a total loss after fire

W. Rick's Taproom and Grill devastated by fire
W. Rick's Taproom and Grill devastated by fire 02:03

BUTLER TOWNSHIP, Pa. (KDKA) -- A local restaurant is closed until further notice after flames tore through the building.

People continued to pull into the parking lot at W. Rick's Taproom and Grill in Butler County on Monday to see the devastation left behind. Many said they're in disbelief and had to check it out for themselves.

Fire ripped through the building early Sunday morning. For longtime patrons like Janet Leise, it's devastating.

"It made me sick to my stomach," Leise said.

"They've always had good food, always had good service, nice people working there and nice atmosphere so it really makes me sad to see that this damage happened to it," she added.

It was just after 2 Sunday morning when flames could be seen shooting through the roof of the Meridian Road restaurant. Multiple fire departments responded and after nearly two hours were able to get the fire under control. Fire officials say the cause is under investigation and don't believe it's suspicious but add it's most likely a total loss. 

W. Rick's Taproom and Grill in Butler County is believed to be a total loss after a fire on Feb. 18, 2024.  (Photo: KDKA)

"This particular establishment has been here for years. Before it was W. Rick's it was Meridian Inn and before that it was something else. It's been here a long time so people kind of depend on it as a meeting place for the area," Cindy Whitecotton said. 

While the future of the longtime popular neighborhood spot is in limbo, its faithful patrons hope for the best. 

"I hope they're able to get it back up and running again soon," Leise said.

"It's just a major little hub of the community and I don't know that it's going to recover," Whitecotton said.

Longtime bartender Amy Spangler says if you work for the owners or have eaten at their restaurant, you're considered family. 

"We're like sort of a family, not only as employees and coworkers but it was a place in the neighborhood, so we check in on families. If we don't see our regulars for a day or two, we stop by their house or give them a phone call to see what's going on," Spangler said. 

Despite the devastation, Spangler is hopeful. 

"We're hopeful that the insurance company is going to take care of us. Obviously we'd all qualify for unemployment if that's the route we have to go. But we're just hoping for a rebuild. We're hoping everyone just pulls together and can get us back on our feet sooner rather than later," Spangler said. 

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