WYTHEVILLE, Va. – A Wytheville landmark and favorite dining spot was damaged by fire Tuesday evening, but most of the Log House Restaurant 1776 survived the blaze.
Wytheville Fire Chief Marc Brade said the fire was contained to the kitchen and the attic. Approximately 80 percent of the restaurant was untouched by fire, but there was water damage, he added. No one was injured.
Kish Hatchel, daughter of restaurant owners James and Pat Green, said Wednesday morning that the fire started above the grill. Employees extinguished the fire, but noticed flames in the vent. Employees then checked outside in the kitchen area and saw flames at the vent.
All employees and customers were evacuated. Within minutes of the 6 p.m. 911 call, the Wytheville Fire Department arrived to find flames shooting from the attic and a fire in the kitchen. Firefighters extinguished the kitchen fire and continued battling the burning roof. At around 6:25, a portion of the roof collapsed.
Brade said firefighters from Wytheville, Max Meadows and Rural Retreat had the fire under control by 6:40 p.m.
“ It absolutely was a very serious fire,” Brade said. “With quick response and manpower, we were able to save a massive percentage of the entire building.”
Standing outside his restaurant Wednesday morning, James Green said he plans to reopen. When Green bought the building 46 years ago, he wasn’t sure a log house was part of the structure, but he suspected it because of the thick windows. The outside was covered in weather boarding and vines, and on the inside, the walls were plaster.
“ Do you know why it was covered in weather boarding?” he asked. “Because people who lived in log houses were looked down on in the early 1900s, so they covered it up. That’s why the walls were plastered inside, too.”
The age of the original log house is somewhat murky – the town of Wytheville lists the construction as around 1790, a couple of years before the town was founded; however, Green’s research dates it to 1776, the year the country was founded, Hatchel said.
Green said that he and his family have received phone calls and messages from people across the United States checking on the restaurant, his family and employees.
“ People stop here on their way to Myrtle Beach and Florida,” Hatchel said. “We have gotten messages from customers from all over. The outpouring of messages from customers who have been coming here for years has been unbelievable.”