HAWARDEN, Iowa (KCAU) — After a fire forced its shutdown a day after Christmas 2021, Central Café in Hawarden is now back open at its original location. For decades, Central Café has been known as one of Hawarden’s go-to eateries, and the small town of just under three thousand people now has its beloved café back.

After 16 months and numerous temporary locations, Hawarden’s Central Café is open for business in its original location.

“Excited about, yes very much so. It was, even though we had the other places to go to, it’s still like I said, It wasn’t home. This is home,” Hawarden local Merry Landenberger said.

“I find it very good, this place has been missed for so many months that they were closed since the fire but its wonderful that they’re back open again,” Hawarden local April Kiewel said.

The cafe’s owners have put in countless hours of work preparing for their opening day while continuing business with the help of local kitchens.

“We saw people sneaking under the windows and peaking through the window. They want to see what it looks like and then finally we opened the door and they were so amazed, so excited that it’s finally done,” Central Café owner Jen McVay said.

“Having to move, we moved three times, four times with moving into the new place. And then their kitchens weren’t set up for our café you know, it’s just little kitchens,” Central Café Owner Chad McVay said.

A new addition to the café: Artwork by Francine, the owner’s daughter.

“It’s been very personal for me because she worked really hard to finish that wall for us, you know, to show people. And the other one is a phoenix, you know, when a phoenix shows up with fire. That what it represents, what happened before,” Jen McVay said.

Family is important to Jen and Chad, and seeing the smiling faces return to their favorite café makes all the hard work worth it.

“Words cannot express how much we appreciate people for their support since the day the fire broke,” Jen McVay said.

“It’s the focal point. It’s where everybody comes back to when they leave. Like college students, they’ll leave to go to college, get married, but their family is here so they always come back here,” Landenberger said.

The McVay’s greeted patrons today with free cupcakes. A symbol of appreciation to those who made re-opening after the fire possible.