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After a fire, Center Ice Cafe aims to increase its clientele



Belgrade, Montana – The Center Ice Café was forced to close for fourteen months due to fire and water damage, but it reopened in December.

Rhonda Gilbert, the café’s owner, said the reopening process took a while. However, the café is now attempting to regain some of its previous clientele.

Gilbert claimed that the neighborhood provided a lot of support throughout the healing process. Every day, she got Facebook messages from neighbors inquiring about the café’s development. However, business is not as brisk as it was prior to the fire.

“Being closed that long, the community kind of forgets you’re here. You’re not here for them so they tend to go somewhere else,” she said.

After firemen extinguished an electrical fire that erupted in the kitchen in October 2021, it took four months for the restaurant and other businesses in the building to simply dry out.

From that point forward, inspectors had to ensure that everything was up to code by replacing or rewiring the kitchen appliances, walls, flooring, and electrical systems.

Gilbert has spent his entire life working at restaurants here. She manages the cooking at the café for the majority of the day. She works alongside her son and daughter as well.

“Many people asked me if I was just going to give up. There’s no way, I’ve worked too hard. Restaurants have been in my blood for my whole life, and getting this place back open was my goal. I never, ever thought about not reopening.”

Gilbert claimed that the Café’s current objective is to grow its clientele again.

“I want to see each and every one of those smiling faces walking in my door, hungry and happy and ready to eat.”

Wednesday through Friday, breakfast and lunch are served in the Center Ice Café, and on the weekends, breakfast is served all day. Gilbert makes both the cream cheese frosting and the cinnamon rolls for them.

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