Well-known Cafe Gutted by Flames

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BUTLER TOWNSHIP -- A main road was shut down for several hours after a business went up in flames.

Fire officials said several departments were called in to help battle flames at the Bell House Cafe on Route 309 in Butler Township just before 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The shop, which sold sandwiches, coffee, and more, is a total loss, and the owner said he's devastated.

Flames could be seen shooting out of every window at the business.

Firefighters doused the blaze with water in every direction, as they worked to contain the flames.

Even so, the Bell House Cafe on Route 309 in Butler Township was destroyed, and the owner is heartbroken.

"Loss hurt, I don't know, I loved the place man," said Tom Bell, owner.

The Valley Regional fire chief said his crew got the call just before 6 p.m.

Firefighters from several neighboring departments had to be called in to help fight the blaze.

"Basically when we got here we had heavy flames in the rear of the building and the side of the building. We had crews try to make the initial attack. When we got here we weren't sure if there were people inside," said Chief Rich Bodnar, of Valley Regional Fire Department.

The chief said no one was inside at the time of the fire, and no one was hurt, but the blaze did cause a headache for drivers.

Part of Route 309 had to be shut down in both directions for more than two hours to allow the trucks access to the scene.

As for the owner, Tom Bell and his family, they've been there for five years

Bell said he does have insurance, but he doesn't know if they'll be able to come back from such damage.

"I love my customers. I love the food. I love what we did. I love my staff. I love the bell house," said Bell.

There is no word on what sparked the blaze. A state police fire marshal was called in to investigate.


  • Sharon C

    Personally, I believe if you have such horrid accusations as saying a man set fire to his own business or something about “what he does to kids” you should have the nerve to not post anonymously. That just tells me you’re a coward and a drama queen. If you have proof of something illegal or immoral then be a man/woman and call the authorities. Otherwise go climb back under your rock and shut up.

  • Paula Quick

    I am proud to say I have known Tom Bell for over 25 years. I have watched him pour his heart and soul into creating and running The Bell House Cafe. I saw first hand all of the work he did to make his dream a reality. I have seen him cook and serve customers with a smile when he was in so much pain from a back injury that he could hardly walk. Tom has done some wonderful things in his life, but I have never seen him work harder, both physically and mentally, than he has with The Bell House Cafe. Tom has taught me more about business and life than I could have even learned in school. He is honest, takes pride in everything he does, and has more integrity than anyone I have ever met. If there were more people like Tom Bell, the world would be a much better place! This has been a horrible tragedy for Tom and anyone who does not think so, obviously doesn’t know him. I have no problem posting my name because I am not ashamed to speak the truth.

  • Cheryl

    Mr. Bell. I would like to apologize for my comment earlier. You are right, although I have driven by, I have not been in. I should not talk about an establishment which I have not been in personally. I misread your sign I few months back I guess and that clouded my thinking in addition to my own problems this time of year. This time of year can really bring sad times to the surface. You did not deserve to be the outlet for my own troubles. I am truly sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine losing a business. My thoughts go out to you and your staff, who are also affected in a bad time of year. Thank God no one was hurt.

    • Thomas Bell

      Cheryl. That’s ok its hard for everyone this time of year, only being here for 4 years it most be hard for you too. We don’t have alot but we invite you to share it with us, if you have no one to be with on Christmas. If you want stop in, when we reopen. Your your local friend.Tom

  • Thomas Bell

    It is being investigated.
    Do you not know how life works before you speak wait for it.have any of you owned any thing that you worked hard for.

  • Thomas Bell

    To all thank you for all you kind words, my family and I thank you.to crystal you have and never be a part of my family I tried to help you and you got GED should I go on. So please stop telling everyone you meet you are your part of my family it embarrasses us.

    To the others anonymous, my financials should not make you jealous all it takes is hard work. That’s how I have a few rentals one of them did burn,I didn’t live in it. A young family of 4, 3 under 10 lost there home on christmas day. None of my rentals are over insured so it not for money.
    The kid that work at the bell house,have morale fortitude and yes I do hold them responsible for their actions.you have to be able to work and get good grades. If not you become one of the whiner’s and whine about everything but why u no longer have the job.
    Class is something I hope for u.

  • Cheryl

    I agree. Not long ago (a few months) they had it up for sale. I live right near there and I drive by there daily. The parking lot almost never had a car in it and I’ve been living here for 4 years. It is REALLY suspicious to me.

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