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Clarkesville businesses chip in to help those affected by March 6 fire
Boards, standing walls and charred buildings are what is left of Sweet Breads restaurant and other establishments in downtown Clarkesville, caused by a March 6 fire. These business are part of the Clarkesville square. - photo by CHARLES PHELPS

CLARKESVILLE — Cathy Roberts, a Clarkesville resident and owner of Sheep Hollow on the downtown square, sat behind the counter of her store Saturday reminiscing about what made Sweet Breads one of her favorite places to eat.

She said the seafood quiche was her favorite dish, but there was more than the food that made it a special place.
“Besides the food being great, the ambiance of the place was awesome,” she said. “Whether it was the music, the pictures, or the decor in general. ... It was just an interesting and neat place to visit.”

Sweet Breads was destroyed in a fire in the early morning of March 6. The building was estimated to be around 100 years old.

Other business such as Natalie Jane’s Tavern On The Square, Parker Place Antiques and Edward Jones Investments suffered damage from the blazing inferno, with a big chunk of the roof missing. Those businesses remain closed.

“Somebody said it looked like the burning of Atlanta,” said Roberts, who wasn’t there the night of the fire. “The firefighters did a good job in containing (the fire).”

Roberts said whenever visitors asked for a place to eat, she would direct them to Sweet Breads and Natalie Jane’s.

“I hope they start to bulldoze soon and start building it back up,” she said. “When you have a town the size of Clarkesville, something like the fire is devastating.”

Roberts’ business and others along the square are donating a percentage of their sales to help the relief effort.
On the banister in front of the businesses affected, a banner reads “Clarkesville Strong.”

Hanners Outfitters and Dry Goods had T-shirts made up with the slogan on them. Co-owner David Hanners said $17.50 of every shirt sold with the slogan is going directly to a fund to help those left unemployed by the fire, calling them the “main concern.”

“Clarkesville is an amazing little community and it has come together after the fire,” Hanners said. “As a clothing store, we asked ‘What could we do to help?’ All of those employees lost their jobs and we wanted to help them.
“So we threw the shirt together.”

John Wayne Armour, a Habersham County resident, got his first glimpse of the fire damage Saturday.

“I was shocked but not surprised,” he said. “It’s just one of those things you run into with old buildings.

“I’d like to see them restore the building back how it was originally. These buildings are one of the attractions to Clarkesville. It’s rustic and the city has that go-back-in-time feel to it. That’s why my family and I moved back here.”