DENVER (CBS4) – Four months after a fire forced The Cherry Cricket to close, staff returned to the restaurant to prepare for reopening.
The Cherry Creek North eatery is scheduled to reopen to the public Tuesday. Staff said memories of the fire were fresh in their mind as they returned to work over the weekend.
“(The night of the fire) there was smoke everywhere, billowing out,” said Samantha Taxin, a manager.
“(Firefighters) were just pouring water into the place. Lights everywhere. Sirens. It looked like the whole thing was going to burn up,” said Lee Driscoll, the restaurant’s CEO.
Shortly after the fire, the decision to reopen in the future was made.
Staff was tasked with part of the cleanup.
“There were still burgers on the grill. There was still food everywhere,” said Heidi Ziepprecht, bar manager.
Renovations took months to complete, as damages from battling the fire claimed several key components of the restaurant.
“(Renovation expenses) were more than $1 million,” Driscoll said. “It was expensive.”
A handful of the iconic fish in the restaurant’s fish tank died in the blaze. The rest were brought back after the renovation, with several other staples from the restaurant.
“All the kitchen is completely new, all the infrastructure,” Driscoll said. “We kept everything the same that the public can see.”
A total of 84 staff members remained on payroll as the renovations were completed.
Instead of serving fries, staff members were out serving the community, paid to invest in others during the wait.
“We just kind of went, and gave back,” Ziepprecht said.
With the fire in the past and a grand reopening on the horizon, ownership said there is only one message left to share.
“Thank you to the fire department for doing such an incredible job,” Driscoll said.
The restaurant plans to set aside $1 of each “fire burger” sold during the first week of business. The proceeds collected will be given to the firefighters who responded the night of the fire.