Rising from the ashes: Community rallies for employees of ravaged business

Harley Jones uses free space on a chalkboard shaped as the front portal of the Cypress Creek Café to write an inspirational message Saturday at the Waters Point in Wimberley. (photo by Moses Leos III)

With a smile on her face and friends around her, Dripping Springs native Tori Giles danced away as Jennifer B and the Groove jammed out on the stage at The Waters Point in Wimberley Saturday.

Such smiles and good vibes couldn’t be found three weeks ago as Giles, along with 53 other employees of the Cypress Creek Cafe, learned of the destructive fire that destroyed one of Wimberley’s most iconic businesses. Giles, who was ill the night before, didn’t learn of the destruction until the next morning.

“I was just in shock,” Giles said. “It was so much more than I could understand. I felt like it was my own home that burnt down.”

But with the help of members of the community both near and far, Giles, along with musician Marvin Boterra, sought a way to help the employees displaced by the blaze.

By hosting the “From the Ashes” benefit concert, Giles and Boterra both fundraised to help get employees of the ill-fated restaurant back on their feet.

Giles said the motivation was to assist those employees who counted on a paycheck from the cafe to support their families.

(photo by Moses Leos III)

“When this place burned, it wasn’t just some small town restaurant, it really was the livelihood of some people,” Giles said.

After talking with two other servers, Giles thought the idea of a benefit concert was a “great idea.” She reached out to many of the musicians who played at the cafe, who also lost a place to perform their craft.

Giles said as soon as Boterra heard about the concert, he “jumped in with both feet.” Boterra said the goal is to help those who needed assistance going from one job to another.

“It’s a great opportunity to be part of this community. We’re all family. We truly are,” Boterra said.

Haley Fowell, who has worked at Cypress Creek since 2014, said owners Randy and Trish Uselton were immediately worried about their employees, rather than themselves.

“They were worried about us, it speaks to who they are as people,” Fowell said.

Getting businesses and vendors to take part in the event wasn’t a difficult proposition, Giles said. People jumped at the chance of assisting the concert, whether as food vendors or musicians. Giles said the community has rallied together and they wanted to help.

Residents near and far attended the From the Ashes concert, which benefitted employees displaced in the Cypress Creek Café fire last month. (photo by Moses Leos III)

Wimberley Mayor Mac McCullough, who is also the co-owner of the Wimberley Cafe on the square, said businesses helping the event are “another example of what we like to do in Wimberley.”

McCullough said he couldn’t think of a better reason than to help support “what Randy and Trish contributed to the community.

He cited the success Cypress Creek had on business in the square. McCullough said business on the square rose by 10 percent when Cypress Creek opened its doors.

Help for Cypress Creek employees has also come from area businesses, which have taken them in and offered them a chance to work again.

Jay Bachmann, co-owner of the Back Porch and Tavern, said Cypress Creek was the “crown jewel” on top of Wimberley, where many in the community hang out.

As a result, Bachmann, along with fellow co-owner Jody Merritt, brought in eight former employees of the Cypress Creek Café. The idea was to give anyone who needs a job employment once again.

“We’re a tight knit community,” Bachmann said. “Whenever something weird like this happens, we come together.”

Revelers who attended the event also had some connection to the café. Wimberley resident Adam Merritt said he has done graphic design for Cypress Creek’s crawfish boil in 2008. Since then, Merritt retains fond memories of the café as the community hangout.

But he also has seen how the community comes together in times of crises – something Wimberley residents have done time and again over the course of the last four years.

“We’re one big family,” Merritt said. “When bad things happen, we come together as a community and help out. It’s the Wimberley way.”

See more photos from the From the Ashes Benefit here. 

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