Sick to my stomach.
That’s what it felt like watching the video of Caffrey’s Tavern burning. Hours later, and it doesn’t feel any better.
I wasn’t born in Forked River, but this has been my home town for 14 years. Other than the town I grew up in (Willingboro), I have not lived in any place longer than Lacey Township. At a certain point, you get to know the eateries and watering holes that locals love and have loved for years.
Everybody loved Caffrey’s.
And when I mean everybody, I mean that if you went on Saturday night, you would think that EVERY person in town stopped by at some point for a bite or a drink. Never saw an evening where the parking lot wasn’t jammed. Drove two restaurants across the street out of business (more or less).
What makes a neighborhood restaurant so beloved? The food? The service? The feeling of connection with your neighbors? They all matter, and Caffrey’s certainly did its part as far as the food and service side of things. In fact, I would argue that the waitstaff at Caffrey’s was better than many high-end places we have been to over the years. As far as the food, I was always a sucker for the Trashcan Burger (a cheeseburger with pork roll).
There’s a time to be sad, but in the sadness there have been wonderful positives. The Wawa next door brought drinks and supplies for the firefighters (oh yeah, it was only 90 degrees with heavy humidity). Linda’s Pizza down the road supplied pizzas. Area restaurants have reached out to give the staff opportunities to work elsewhere in the meantime. As it has been said, look for the helpers in times of trouble.
According to the owners, Caffery’s will be rebuilt and be better and stronger. Based on the outpouring of love expressed by the community throughout the day, the rebuild is already off to a great start.