Fresh paint has been applied to the dining room and bar areas at Cafe Genevieve and the kitchen is in the process of being rebuilt.
The restaurant plans to reopen in February after a July fire closed the popular eatery indefinitely.
Insurance money is slowly trickling in and town permits have been finalized for some changes, so contractors with Two Ocean Builders are now working nearly every day to get the restaurant open.
Missing out on summer business, arguably the busiest time of year in Jackson for the service industry, was really hard, owner Fred Peightal said.
But he’s hopeful for the cafe’s future.
“I’m excited to have a brand new back of the house,” Peightal said. “And to get our crew back together.”
Peightal picked up the last permit he needed last week, he said. But since the fire happened in early July, he’s been jumping through hoops trying to get things in place to start the rebuild.
Insurance helped him keep some employees, he said, but there’s a time limit on that pay so he’s motivated to reopen shop as soon as possible.
“We have some really great employees,” he said. “We are like a family.”
The 109-year-old log building that houses Cafe Genevieve caught fire around 3 a.m. July 2.
“The historical part of the building held up better than the addition,” Peightal said. “So the bones will be the same. But it could have been a disaster.”
Crews cleaned the original logs, which were mostly unaffected by the blaze. The kitchen was a loss, as was a storage shed that sat out back. But Peightal said he feels lucky that for the most part, the historical building remains intact.
“They don’t build like this anymore,” he said.
Insulation is being added, which Peightal said will make the infamously cold dining room much warmer in the winter, especially during dinner service.
The original floors are being covered, Peightal said, but unfortunately they’re too thin to salvage.
Despite almost five months of investigating, police don’t know how the fire started. Tests were inconclusive, so the cause remains undetermined.
“We’re working on mysteries without any clues,” Peightal said, half joking with a nod to a Bob Seger song.
Jokes aside, Peightal said he’s not looking for those answers. He’s ready to move on.
“The future is bright,” he said. “What’s done is done.”
Peightal would rather focus on the silver lining of the fire. The rebuild will mean 10 extra seats on the outdoor deck in warmer months, he said, and an extra 150 square feet in the kitchen. It will be a new and improved Cafe Genevieve, he said.
Built in 1910, the structure was originally the homestead of Roy and Genevieve Van Vleck and is one of Jackson’s oldest buildings. Genevieve Van Vleck was a member of Jackson’s first-ever all-woman Town Council in 1920. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in September 1995.
When the fire happened the Jackson Hole Land Trust was in the midst of a community fundraising campaign to preserve the cabin alongside other historic buildings and open space on the downtown Jackson block.
Cafe Genevieve’s building also suffered a fire in 1989 when it was Jedediah’s Original House of Sourdough. That fire destroyed the kitchen and attic. It took Jedediah’s 11 months to reopen, according to Jackson Hole News archives.
Peightal said he’s thankful to Jackson Hole Fire/EMS for the fast response. He’s equally thankful for the community, which he said has been very supportive.
If you have information related to the fire, you’re asked to call Jackson Police Detective Rob Andazola at 733-1430.
Anonymous tips can be left with Jackson Hole Crimestoppers at 733-5148.