A sadness looms over 5707 Gall Blvd., in Zephyrhills.
Caution tape, and charred debris litter the empty, dirt parking lot.
A pungent smell of burnt wood lingers in the air.
Such is the aftermath of a May 2 two-alarm fire that destroyed the Crystal Bar and Package store, a Zephyrhills landmark, which has operated at the location since 1954.
Zephyrhills Fire Rescue received a call about a commercial building on fire at the Crystal Bar and Package store on Gall Boulevard at 11:30 a.m., on May 2, according to a report from Pasco County Fire Rescue.
Upon arrival, Zephyrhills fire reported heavy fire through the roof, according to Pasco Fire Rescue’s report.
Pasco County Fire Rescue assisted Zephyrhills Fire Rescue in battling the fire, which was upgraded to a two-alarm fire, and caused the closure of Gall Boulevard at 12th Street, requiring local detours. No injuries were reported. The State Fire Marshal’s Office was requested to respond to the scene.
Two days after the fire, Bob Geddes, one of the establishment’s owners, was in disbelief, as he, family and friends, returned to the site to search for items that may have survived the enormous blaze that raged through the wood-frame building.
Geddes said the fire was electrical in nature. He said it started in the attic and moved swiftly, fueled by old, dry wood. The roof collapsed. He said the building is considered a total loss.
The establishment, known to be the longest-operating bar in the city, has a rich history within the community.
Geddes’ father, Bob, and his mother, Geraldine — who went by Jerry — bought the bar in 1954. The younger Bob was just 18 months old at the time.
In the early years, the owners, originally from Chicago operated the bar from an old wood structure that sat behind the current building.
The couple went on to have six kids, some of whom worked in the business in some capacity, over the years.
Around 27 years ago, the Geddes siblings formed a corporation and became the current owners. Their mom passed away in 2000, and their dad passed on in 2004.
The loss of the bar has touched a chord with people who have patronized it through the years. Its Facebook page is filled with comments, offering condolences, sharing memories and expressing a sense of loss.
It was a place where lifelong friendships began. Relationships that formed within its walls sometimes led to marriage. Going to the bar for a drink became a rite of passage for generations of families.
Although people have been asking whether the Crystal Bar will be rebuilt, two days after the blaze — as Geddes and loved ones searched through the rubble — the answer remained unclear.
“Who knows what the future holds,” Geddes said.
B.C. Manion contributed to this story.
Published May 08, 2019