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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Werkstatt begins road to recovery

Werkstatt begins road to recovery

For small business owner Dave Colestock, Werkstatt 533 was more than just an auto shop; it was his legacy and a source of pride for his family. This is why it was so devastating when it burned down on April 14 of this year. 

The surrounding Cooke Park community rallied around the family, and hosted a fundraiser in May for the rebuilding process. This week, Colestock begins rebuilding Werkstatt and hopes to finish by March of next year.

The fire was ignited from an electrical loom in one of the cars at the shop. It short circuited, and set the car on fire. It had nothing to do with the shop or the work the car was in for; it was simply a one in a million fluke, said Colestock.

“It was either going to be their house, or my shop, or it could've even started on fire on the road,” he said this week in an interview.

Many people may have given up, but this was not an option for Colestock. He said, “We put everything we had into it. Blood, sweat, tears, and money. A lot of people think, ‘oh you're insured, take the money and run’. Well, it’s sort of a punk move. The high road is not an easy path, but I would rather take it. We really believe in Rochester.” 

The Colestock family is new to Rochester, and says at first had a hard time connecting with the community. This fire, although unfortunate, overwhelmed the family with support. 

“The fundraiser was like going to my funeral and my wedding on the same day.”

The hardest part of this tragedy, Colestock added, has been the emotional trauma on his family.

“My family is my highest priority, they've been my greatest concern through this entire thing,” he said. “You would be surprised at how affected little ones are by this kind of thing. It’s really hard for them to understand.”

Beck, Colestock’s six-year-old son, remembers the way Werkstatt used to be, and asks his father if the new Werkstatt can look just like how it used to. Werkstatt was only open for 27 months before it burned down. Now, he hopes to rebuild it to the same level of quality.

Written by contributor Micalyn Maier. A senior at Mayo High School, Micalyn enjoys reading, writing and traveling. She wants to pursue a career in journalism covering social justice issues.

Cover photo courtesy JT Egner Construction / Facebook

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