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The Cave continues legacy three years after a fire destroyed the tavern

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the cave byron

BYRON (WREX) — Flipping burgers, serving drinks and cleaning is usually what you'll find the owner of The Cave, Matt Pendergrass, doing at the local tavern.

Since 2013, he's owned and operated the community staple. An honor he never thought would happen.

"I'm from Byron, grew up coming to The Cave," says Pendergrass. "One day I came in, started talking to the owner and said, 'If you ever think of selling give me a call,' the next day he calls me."

The bar and restaurant has a rich history that Pendergrass is proud to have a part of and says it has come a long way to where it is today.

"The cave got started way before my time, its probably been here since 1950 or 1960," says Pendergrass.

"It always been a great little dive bar that's found its niche and it's always been a local hangout."

However, that legacy nearly all burned away in April of 2018.

A fire destroyed the building and damaged two others near by. The loss was a major one for the Byron community, but it turned into a chance to give The Cave new life.

Months later, Pendergrass was able to rebuild the spot right next door to the original; recreating the same look and feel as the old Cave. The upgraded version, as he likes to call it, opened in 2019.

"The fire was devastating, there's no doubt about that, but it was also kind of nice to update it and bring it to todays times with technology," says Pendergrass.

"We added TVs, we have a great outdoor patio now, people who haven't been in here in a long time don't even realize its an entirely new building until they go into the bathrooms."

Bringing back a place where generations of Byronites have called home.

"This is a go to spot when you come back with friends and family, you get a drink, get a burger, and I hope that continues five, ten years from now," says Pendergrass.

"I want people to feel like when they come into this bar, this is home."

The Cave is open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.

Maggie Polsean

Maggie Polsean is an anchor for 13 News Today. Born and raised in Rockford, she is excited to be back home working for the station she grew up watching. Maggie is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and Christian Life high school in Rockford.

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