The deadly tornado that tore through Western Kentucky has been devastating to thousands of people across a four-state region. According to the National Weather Service the tornado that struck Mayfield, Kentucky was an F4 tornado. The Fujita Scale says that an F4 tornado is a devastating tornado with winds between 207 and 260 miles per hour capable of leveling well-constructed houses; structures with weak foundations blown off some distance; cars thrown, and large missiles generated.
The tornado obliterated most of historic downtown Mayfield along with countless homes, churches, and other businesses. One of the many downtown businesses flattened on that fateful day was Carr’s Steakhouse, a family run steakhouse housed in the historic Shelton Building built in the late 1800s, along with Carr’s Barn. Carr’s original family restaurant has been a part of this community for nearly 70 years since it founding in the 1950s.
Carr’s Steakhouse was Completely Destroyed During the Tornado
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Carr’s restaurant was completely destroyed during the horrific tornado that hit Mayfield. The day after the tornado while sifting through the debris field they recovered 14 bottles of premium bourbon. Carr’s has donated all 14 bottles to The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit to raise funds for those affected by the tornado.
Carr’s has a history of giving to this community and this occasion was no different. In 2016 Carr’s was recognized by the National Restaurant Association with the ‘Restaurant Neighbor Award’.
Upon receiving the award Stacy Roof, President and CEO National Restaurant Association remarked, “What is so unique about Carr’s is it’s a one-of-a-kind, Mom and Pop, good ole’ Kentucky restaurant and they are really involved with their community.”
After winning the award Carr’s Steakhouse Owner Daniel Carr said, “It’s a very real, very human business running a restaurant and being a part of the community. Without those relationships, without those connections, it’s not going to last. Our family has always been a very giving and compassionate community oriented [business].”
UPDATE: The Kentucky Distillers’ Association and The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit have announced that half of the money raised from the sales of these bottles plus funds that will be matched from many of the distillers will go back to restaurant employees families.
A History of Paying it Forward
Over the years, Carr’s Restaurant fundraising efforts have raised roughly $50,000. Those funds have allowed children in their community’s school district to enroll in youth sports. A few years ago they held a fundraising drive to keep the local movie theater alive. They served a free meal to the community in exchange for donations to the movie theater and raised thousands of dollars to keep the establishment in business.
The battered bottles are listed in 12 separate lots (#412-423) at The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit, each one signed and dated by Daniel Carr for authentication. Additionally, several distillers volunteered to match their brand’s ending sales price up to $10,000.
“It is beyond belief that these bottles survived the devastation,” said Eric Gregory, president of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association – KDA, which partnered with the Bourbon Crusaders charitable organization and Bourbon curator Fred Minnick on the six-day benefit that ends Tuesday night.
“It was a powerful and emotional moment when Daniel offered these emblems of resilience to the cause,” Gregory said. “Their business is gone. Their town is gone. But their first thought was to donate them to make a difference for families and communities across Western Kentucky.
“That’s the indomitable spirit of Kentucky, and we are grateful for their generosity and support.”
Carr said, “I’m just trying to do my part, help as many people as possible, and this just seemed like a way to amplify the impact we could have on our community during this time of need.”
Here is the complete list of bourbon bottles donated by Carr’s Steakhouse.
- Angel’s Envy
- Blue Run High Rye (two)
- Bardstown Bourbon Co. Discovery Series
- Duke Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- Ingram River Aged Flagship Bourbon
- Knob Creek 15-year
- Maker’s Mark
- Maker’s Mark 75th Anniversary Keeneland edition (2011)
- Russell’s Reserve 10-year (two)
- Russell’s Reserve 10-year signed by Master Distiller Jimmy Russell (2004)
- W.B. Saffell (produced by Wild Turkey)
- Woodford Reserve 135th Kentucky Derby commemorative (2009)
Little is left of Carr’s Steakhouse, a popular hotspot that opened in 2011 and earned the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 “Restaurant Neighbor Award” for outstanding community service and philanthropy. Carr, 37, is currently chairman of the Kentucky Restaurant Association’s Board.
Carr’s Family Evacuated the Restaurant 10 Minutes Before the Tornado Leveled the Building
Carr said he worked all day on Dec. 10 and left the restaurant around 8:45 p.m. just as a packed crowd was beginning to wind down. But when he got home, his wife, Amanda, was monitoring the storms on TV and told him a tornado was bearing down on Mayfield.
“I called the restaurant and told my brother, David, to get everyone out of there,” he said. Daniel’s 17-year-old son, Israel, was working that night too, along with his wife’s two brothers and her father who was helping cook and wash dishes. Everyone escaped safely.
“It was just a pile of bricks and wood less than 10 minutes later,” Daniel Carr said. “No one would have survived.”
The next day, they salvaged the 14 dirty and dust-covered bottles as they searched through the ruins for the restaurant’s cash drawer to pay their 29 employees who have a combined 22 children. Many lost their homes or all their possessions. All are now unemployed.
They’ve also started GoFundMe online fundraiser for their workers. “We want to help show them there is hope in these devastating times,” wrote Daniel’s wife, Amanda Carr, on the gofundme.com page. “We are a family and we are sticking together through this.”
Minnick, a best-selling author and expert on all things Bourbon, said, “If your heart isn’t moved by the Carr’s Steakhouse donations, you’re not human. To lose so much and still turn quickly to help your neighbors, employees and friends shows the integrity of Daniel Carr and his family.
“I know one day we will once again sit down to both a thick, juicy steak at Carr’s and a pour of good Kentucky Bourbon. Part of the rebuilding process is thinking years from now, and I cannot wait to host bourbon dinners at Carr’s and show the world the best of Kentucky.”
Gregory said the Carr family’s generosity struck a chord with Kentucky distillers, who are known for helping each other during times of crisis. “It’s our duty as a signature industry to help our fellow Kentuckians.
“We were humbled by the Carr’s donation and offer our sincere thanks. Their outstanding contribution amid the chaos of loss adds momentum to the regrowth, healing and long-term vitality of Mayfield and Western Kentucky for the years ahead.”
The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit Has Raised $1.7 Million So Far
The Kentucky Bourbon Benefit so far has raised $1.7 million, with all proceeds going to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund. The silent auction ends Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 10 p.m. EST. A live-streamed auction of the top 15 items will be held from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 21.
Seven distillers representing 12 of the 14 bottles are matching the ending auction price of their lots up to $10,000: Angel’s Envy, Blue Run Spirits, Brown-Forman, Duke Spirits, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark and Wild Turkey.
Independent Stave Company also is matching the vintage 2004 Russell’s Reserve, autographed by Wild Turkey’s Hall of Fame Master Distiller Jimmy Russell, up to $10,000. Ingram River Aged is matching its bottle up to $5,000.
Maker’s Mark also is offering the winning bidder of its Keeneland bottle a private distillery tour on April 15, followed by an exclusive afternoon at the historic race course for a group of eight to watch the annual running of the Grade I Stakes Maker’s Mark Mile.
The guests will receive a behind-the-scenes tour of Keeneland and enjoy an afternoon of racing from a private suite and a complete set of hand-signed 2022 Keeneland commemorative bottles. The winning bidder of the second Maker’s Mark bottle also will receive a private distillery tour.
Angel’s Envy also is offering a private tour of its downtown Louisville distillery to the winning bidder of its recovered bottle, along with suite tickets at the YUM Center for a University of Louisville basketball game.
Brown-Forman Master Distiller Chris Morris is adding a private tour of the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery and will personally take the winner of its Kentucky Derby bottle and five friends to dinner at Matt Winn’s steakhouse at Churchill Downs.
And Duke Spirits is including one bottle of everything it producers, signed by the founders Chris Radomski and Ethan Wayne: Duke 88 Kentucky Bourbon, Duke Grand Cru 110 Bourbon, Duke double barrel rye, Duke Grand Cru Reposado, Duke Grand Cru extra anejo, Duke Commemorative 6-year extra anejo and Duke Napa Valley 24-year Brandy.
Brian Haara, Bourbon Crusader member and Bourbon author, added, “The Carr family is an inspiration, and they embody the resilience and strength of Kentuckians, along with the outpouring of generosity among our donors for the Kentucky Bourbon Benefit.
“Bourbon has proved itself an economic lifeblood throughout Kentucky’s history. In donating these bottles — and demonstrating a community-first mindset — the Carr family and distillers, donors and bidders are advancing that legacy and lighting the way ahead for years to come.”