Today marks one year since our beloved Fergie’s Cafe burned to the ground in the early hours of the morning.
A year ago today, Jake and Jess Freese heard the early morning sirens and witnessed their beloved cafe go up in smoke – literally. Firefighting crews were called to the scene just before 5am on April 3rd, 2018 and by 7am the visible flames were put out, though the ruins kept smoking and smouldering for several hours.
“It was surreal. I was there the night before, we prepped everything for the next day, and then I got woken up by a text message at 5am saying it’s all on fire,” remembers Krissy Seymour, Fergie’s Chef at the time. “All we could do was stand by and watch it go down. It was devastating, eerie and surreal.”
And just like that, the iconic blue shack that was Fergie’s Cafe was gone.
Vanessa DeNardo, General Manager for Sunwolf and Fergie’s, says she couldn’t quite grasp the enormity of the loss at first. “Jess called me early in the morning to say there’d been a fire, and I was trying to determine which part of the Cafe was damaged,” says Vanessa. “I just remember Jess eventually saying ‘Vanessa, Fergie’s is gone.’ I couldn’t believe it.”
Out of the heartwrenching rubble came not glimmers, but shining beacons of love and light.
Let’s be honest – it could have been much worse. No one was hurt and it was early enough in the year that the forest fire risk was low.
The local fire crews who came to fight the blaze understood the loss to the community that this would be, even as they put out the flames. They worked hard to save our new dining trailer which escaped the devastation with only minor smoke and water damage. Thanks to their efforts, it will be a part of the new Fergie’s when we reopen in a couple of months.
Then came the logistics. We had weddings booked all summer at Sunwolf, to be catered by our staff at Fergie’s, but with no cafe, what was to be done? The prospect was bleak at first, though support and solutions came fast and furious from all sides. Jason Fullerton, Facilities and Operations Manager at the Cheakamus Centre down the road from us, and Wade Rowland, their Executive Chef, immediately reached out to us and offered us the use of their kitchen for the first wedding couple that would be affected by the fire.
Within a couple of weeks, we procured a food truck and continued to produce deliciously catered meals for the remaining few dozen weddings booked at Sunwolf, thanks to the determination and ingenuity of Krissy and her Sous Chef at the time, Ryan Rieger.
After the heartbreak, came the big question: if we can, do we want to rebuild? With the outpouring of love from the community, the phone ringing off the hook with support and always asking when we would reopen and how could we be helped… the question ultimately answered itself.
And so the journey of rebirth began!
It was a frenzy of design and planning that culminated in breaking ground on Monday, October 15th, just 195 days after all seemed lost.
While ideally we’d have Fergie’s reopened for today, the first anniversary, we are extremely grateful to be in this position at all. We’re working tirelessly to finish the new building by June and can’t wait to welcome you all back.
We’ll be opening Fergie’s with the same award-winning food menu as before (though with an expanded drinks menu!) – so what will you order first?
When you have 6 year olds discussing your business status…
This was an organic conversation overheard at a Squamish elementary school between a group of grade one students:
Teacher: “What’s your favourite Squamish restaurant?”
A bunch of kids: “Fergie’s!”
Kid 1: “It burned down though.”
Kid 2: “It’s reopening!”
Did we mention we’re constantly floored by the depth and volume of love and support in our community? And have we told you how much we love you all?