ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — There is a sense of urgency among the construction crew members working on finishing the rebuilt Rockford Corner Bar.
The owners hope the flame-ravaged building will reopen before Labor Day weekend.
“We can kind of see the light at the end of the tunnel,” bar owner Sarah Wolfe said Wednesday. “We’re excited.”
The Corner Bar was destroyed in August 2017 in a fire that sparked overnight and lasted for hours, fed by an open gas line. By the time the fire extinguished, the building was destroyed.
Crews were only able to salvage the front brick facade of the old structure. It has been refinished and is now a part of the new building.
Inside the bar Wednesday, workers with Orion Construction could be seen doing electrical work and installing booths. Wolfe proudly showed off a section of the new bar top. It is made of burnt wood from the original bar and finished with a brilliant lacquer.
Wolfe said it is part of their effort to keep as much of the bar’s original charm as possible.
“It’s hard when you lose everything,” she told 24 Hour News 8. “There was not a lot left to work with, but we wanted it to still feel familiar when people came back.”
Despite the excitement surrounding the impending grand reopening, Wolfe said there is still pain associated with the original loss.
“Yesterday was a year. … I got online and started to look at some of the video and I couldn’t. I turned it off,” Wolfe said. “It’s still hard to watch but as we get closer to opening and starting to see the new corner bar, yeah, it’s exciting.”
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The owners are hesitant to set a firm reopening date because some key components in construction have yet to come together. One major holdup is the construction of a new elevator inside. Once the elevator arrives, it can take weeks to install.
The bar will have a number of new features including an open-air second floor seating area, complete with a bar. They’ve also changed the former two-kitchen setup to a single kitchen, which will allow for a larger waiting area and increased efficiency.
Wolfe said some of the former staff members are planning to return when the bar reopens and they’ll help train the new team members.