WEST STEWARTSTOWN — Two weeks after a fire destroyed the Spa Restaurant & Outback Pub, the future of the site remains uncertain.

Owner Francis Grondin estimates it will take another month to complete the insurance claims process and, perhaps, determine a course of action.

“Everybody that we see just keeps asking us ‘You’re going to build back, right?’,” Grondin said. “Everybody wants us to rebuild, but it’s not as simple as that.”

In his heart, Grondin would prefer to rebuild.

He understands The Spa’s importance in town. The 94-year-old establishment is more than just a place to eat a meal and grab a drink. It’s a community center where friendships are made and bonds are strengthened. It’s the unofficial town hall where people talk about the issues of the day. It’s where countless milestone moments — weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and more — are celebrated.

“Everybody has memories,” he said.

Literally, the fire created a void in the heart of the community.

The impact has been devastating, Grondin said.

“The hairdresser down the road summed it up the best when she said that West Stewartstown has been pretty much wiped off the map. [The Spa] was the hub of the town. It was the life of the town,” he said.

Still, there has been a silver lining.

The tragedy revealed the heart and humanity of those living in this corner of the North Country.

Don Noyes Chevrolet in Colebrook provided cash donations to the 20-or-so left jobless by the fire: $500 to full-time employees and $200 to part-time workers.

The employees also received generous help from C Bean Transport of Colebrook, who offered breaks on home heating oil costs, and Full Send Restaurant in Pittsburg, which sold $40 burgers and donated the profits to The Spa employees.

In addition to those grassroots efforts, state officials quickly stepped in to provide assistance.

“The support has been overwhelming,” Grondin said.

A statement posted online expands upon that.

“To our communities: It is a trivial task to say “thank you” as it does not seem sufficient,” it reads. “We are fortunate to be part of a community that not only loved and supported our family, but our staff and The Spa Restaurant and Outback Pub.”

“It has become apparent the impact The Spa and Outback had on not only our family and staff, who poured their hearts and souls into a business, but the community that gathered within its walls as a second home of sorts to many.”

The Spa was established in 1927 as a small diner.

“It was the meeting place for all area woodsmen,” said the Spa website.

A formal dining room was added in 1956 and The Outback Pub was added downstairs in 1994.

The fire occurred in the early morning hours on Monday, Nov. 15.

It was reported at around 4 a.m. and the first crews on scene arrived to find heavy fire showing from the building.

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal completed an investigation and found no wrongdoing. A cause was not identified.


Load comments