ELDRIDGE — Nearly three months after a fire destroyed his bar and restaurant, David E. "Junior" DelVichio walked through the pile of rubble that still remained Friday as contractors began the process of cleaning up.

DelVichio said he had worked out an agreement with the contractor Thursday night to begin cleanup work after the Jan. 17 fire that destroyed Del's Eatery & Pub, a community landmark.

He said the ongoing investigation by the Iowa Fire Marshal's Office, which has not determined a cause of the fire, delayed his insurance provider giving approval to pay for the cleanup.

DelVichio said he received a letter from the city of Eldridge about a month ago asking him to get the site cleaned up within 30 days, and he knows others in the community have been eager to see the cleanup begin.

"I understand," DelVichio said. "It's been almost three months. I was sick and tired of looking at it."

Still, as a backhoe tore through the last remnants of the building that dates back to 1885, DelVichio simply said, "Wow."

"It's kind of sad to see," he said.

City Administrator John Dowd said Friday that the rubble pile that remained on the site had become an eyesore and a public safety concern.

"The debris field seemed to be getting larger," Dowd said. "Things continued to fall off the building."

Dowd said the community would be glad to see the cleanup begin.

Lisa Williams, a clerk at the Post Office that sits a few feet west of the former Del's building, stood in the parking lot Friday afternoon and watched as the demolition began. She said the rubble next door has been a frequent topic of conversation among post office customers over the past few months, and that she, too, would be glad to see it go.

"That's been our only view," she said.

DelVichio said plans are being drawn up for a new building that may sit on a different part of the lot. He said it will have a restaurant and reception hall, with less emphasis on the bar side of the business.