Owners of iconic Bellevue restaurant destroyed in fire unsure what’s next

The owners of Nettie's Fine Mexican Food are picking up the pieces and looking forward after a devastating Christmas Eve fire.
Published: Dec. 26, 2022 at 10:16 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - “It’s been our whole life... There’s 35 years of history there.”

Michael Boyles is hurting as he holds tightly to his wife Kathleen, talking about the fire that destroyed their family restaurant Nettie’s Fine Mexiucan Food on Christmas Eve.

“All I did was get everybody out, by the time we got out the door...” Kathleen couldn’t finish recounting the horrible memory, so Michael finished. “It was just filled with smoke that fast, the whole interior filled up with smoke in that time.”

Every year, Christmas is a special time at the restaurant. Santa made his pre-holiday appearance just days before the fire destroyed the humble and often honored restaurant on Railroad Avenue in Bellevue. The joy of the season is lost, as the Boyles spent the day after Christmas with fire investigators, trying to understand what happened.

“They’re still not entirely sure,” Michael said. “They are calling in an engineer to investigate more around the fireplace in the room, and a re-roofing job that we had done, but that’s just a potential area. They really don’t know.”

The Boyles are grateful that no one was hurt, but saddened to realize their 25 employees are without work at the holiday season. Some old family photos are lost. The restaurant’s legacy, built on the recipes of Kathleen’s late mother and kept alive in the kitchen by her sister, lives on. The question remains: will Nettie’s rise again?

“That’s a pretty good question,” Michael said. “The first time my insurance agent talked to me he said you have to decide, did you just retire, or are you going to rebuild? And we’re still talking about it.”

The Metro restaurant community in particular wasted no time stepping in to help. Taste of Bellevue set up a GoFundMe to assist the restaurant and staff. One restaurant from Omaha already donated $2,500 to help out the “Nettie’s Family.”. Fittingly, the family restaurant was named Best of Bellevue in several categories this year, including Best Wait Staff.