ROCKFORD, Mich. (WOOD) — Owners of the fire-ravaged Corner Bar say they are making good on their promise to rebuild and reopen the iconic downtown Rockford restaurant.
The Corner Bar was destroyed after a fire in the middle of the night last August. Firefighters said they believed the fire may have started in a dumpster and spread to the building as it burned unnoticed.
Construction began over the last several days and the owners say they expect the bar to reopen sometime this summer.
"It's good to look at new walls and a new beginning," Sarah Wolfe, owner of Corner Bar said. "We are hoping that people come back and see us again and we know that it’s not going to be the same Corner Bar... that they remember. It's going to look a little different and probably feel a little different. It's really about the people... People coming back and making new memories."
The team at Orion Construction is handling the project and is confident that the restaurant will be complete by the end of the summer. But they have some challenges to work around as they complete the rebuild.
Crews saved much of the store's brick facade and are now trying to incorporate it into the building.
"So much of it is going to feel new, it’s nice to have that old piece — like that’s 'The Corner'," Wolfe said. "We want it to feel the same and look the same as close as we can."
Builders will also have to work in a confined space. The city has alleviated some of the pressure by allowing the crews to shut down Courtland Street on the east side of N Main Street to provide space for equipment and supplies.
Wolfe said she hopes some of the former staff members will return to be a part of the team when the Corner Bar reopens.
One team member who will certainly be there is Wolfe's 17-year-old son Jimmy.
"Don't stop believing — the Corner Bar," Jimmy Wolfe said, reading the message on a T-shirt. "I can't wait for it to be back up."
Sarah Wolfe said they will be resurrecting the bar's well-known "Wall of Fame" that recognizes members of the community with the best ability to eat large amounts of hot dogs at one time. They are asking those who earned a position on the wall to confirm that their name is on the store's list. Those wishing to confirm can find the list on the bar's Facebook page.