In mid September 2011, Fireplace Tavern (formerly Annie’s Food and Spirits) caught fire and burned. The fire also heavily damaged the adjacent Aztex gas.
The fire was reported in the early morning hours of Sept. 12 when nearby residents heard what sounded like “an explosion,” according to police reports. The resulting “explosion” was powerful enough to knock windows out of nearby Scotts Creek Baptist Church.
In the months since, property owner and contractor Wayne Smith has rebuilt the property and expects to reopen soon, hopefully sometime in May. He said that he is excited to get the business back on its feet.
The remainder of the burned out buildings was demolished to make way for an entirely new facility, expanded fueling islands and a new business beside the Aztex convenience store.
“Right now, we’re looking at putting in a Jack in the Box,” said Smith, referring to the franchise restaurant.
When asked about other changes to the business, Smith noted that the restaurant area will be slightly larger than the previous building and will also include a drive-thru for the restaurant.
The station will also feature an additional fuel pump.
By far, the biggest change for the business will be the switch from BP fuels to Exxon. This change in fuel suppliers will make it the sixth gas station in the Sylva/Cullowhee area to offer Exxon fuels to drivers. The station will offer diesel fuel as well.
After an investigation into the cause of the fire, Smith said that it was ruled as an arson incident, but that is all he knows at the moment.
Many students are looking forward to having new dining options in the community and say they will likely frequent the business if a Jack in the Box opens next door.
“I’m getting tired of always having the same choices. Even one new restaurant will go a long way,” said Crystal Tucker, a Western Carolina University sophomore.
John Bertrand, a WCU junior, laughed and said, “I wish someone would open a Cookout in Sylva already.”
Drivers entering Sylva on US 74/23 have a clear view of the construction, and the new building will features an improved and modernized exterior with a stone faÃ§ade.