A long-awaited reopening
by Jennifer Cohron
Jun 15, 2012 | 4363 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeff and Von Traweek are preparing for Saturday’s grand opening of their restaurant. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
Jeff and Von Traweek are preparing for Saturday’s grand opening of their restaurant. Photo by: Jennifer Cohron
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CORDOVA — A car of out-of-towners pulled into the parking lot of Jeff and Von’s Place in Cordova Wednesday morning, and a woman in the passenger seat called out the window, “Are they open yet?”

“No ma’am. Our grand opening is Saturday,” Von Traweek responded.

The visitors soon left without realizing how many people have waited for more than a year to hear that Traweek and her husband, Jeff, are back in business.

The couple ran The Rebel Queen, a restaurant and popular hangout in downtown Cordova that was destroyed in the April 27 tornadoes.

The Traweeks were making biscuits when an early morning storm knocked out the town's electricity, uprooted numerous trees and damaged several buildings on Main Street.

Although The Rebel Queen's dining room was not open, the Traweeks hooked up a generator to cook for clean-up crews who were working in the area.

They stopped serving that afternoon as a larger, deadly tornado bore down on Cordova.

"He (Jeff) told them we'd reopen after the next storm, never dreaming what was really going to happen," Von Traweek said.

The couple were taking shelter in the men's restroom when an F4 leveled the building. An 18-wheeler was thrown into The Rebel Queen's parking lot and a Jeep landed inside the restaurant.

Miraculously, the Traweeks walked out of the rubble with only minor injuries.

Within weeks, word spread that The Rebel Queen would not be rebuilt.

The Traweeks did not own the building and there were no available properties still standing in the Cordova area where they could establish a restaurant.

Nearly a year passed before the couple learned that Lee's Family Restaurant was vacating the old S&J Cafe building next to the railroad tracks — just down the block from the concrete slab where The Rebel Queen once stood.

After an extensive six-week remodel, Jeff and Von's Place is ready to open at 6 a.m on Saturday.

The Traweeks said the new name was necessary to honor the passing of a local landmark.

"That was The Rebel Queen, and it's just gone. There's no other way to put it," Von Traweek said.

However, Jeff and Von's Place features the same owners, the same menu and the same small town atmosphere.

The community is already rallying around the new business.

Dozens of Cordova residents have stopped by each day of the renovation to check on the progress and lend a helping hand.

The Traweeks said they regret that some of their most loyal customers did not live to see Saturday's grand opening. One who missed it by less than a month had already placed her order for a small cheeseburger and spicy fries.

However, the memories of those customers will live on when their friends and neighbors gather at Jeff and Von's Place in the coming months.

Soon, the local men will once again have a place to spend the morning sipping hot coffee and spinning tall tales.

In the fall, the windows of the diner will be decorated with the names of Cordova's newest football stars, and the place will be packed on Friday nights with customers who prefer to root on the Blue Devils somewhere with heat.

The Traweeks said although they had offers to open a restaurant in other cities, their goal has always been to make it back to Cordova.

"This is more than just a way to make a living. It's about the people around here," Von Traweek said.