“I just sat there and did a hard cry,” said The Banque’s general manager, Chrystal Clinedinst.
As 10 On Your Side has previously reported, a man and his dog died in the fire off Morris Crescent in Norfolk Monday morning.
Employees at The Banque restaurant and night club in Norfolk say that man was 60-year-old Bryan Cornell, or as they knew him, “Big B.”
“He was the biggest teddy bear, bigger than life. He would help anybody; you need it he was there, he’d give it to you, or he’d find a way to get it for you,” said Clinedinst.
Over the decades, coworkers say the retired Navy vet worked his way from cook to night manager, making a big impact along the way. Clinedinst worked alongside him the whole time.
“He touched a lot of peoples lives here at the Banque over the past 20 years,” said Clinedinst.
Owner, Dennis Doughty, says four years ago Cornell had to get his leg amputated from sepsis, but that didn’t keep him from staying involved at The Banque. Every Sunday, he would still spend his time helping out and was known as the best prime rib slicer around.
“You could see this was meant for him; this was his life, this is what he loved,” said Doughty.
“He was very introverted, but once he came in here he lit up like a Christmas tree,” added Clinedinst.
While the doors will stay open and the business will keep moving, the crew says no one will ever replace Cornell’s kind soul.
“I can tell you one thing, grown men do cry, and that was one of the things that broke my heart because he was with us for so long and gone through so many things and was more of an example to our family staff,” said Doughty.
The Banque is inviting the community to a celebration of life for Cornell on December 8 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
The fire is still under investigation.