The Buffalo Chip Saloon in getting ready to rise from the ashes – and fans of the the landmark Cave Creek spot couldn't be happier.
The renowned country music joint and saloon, which was destroyed by a Thanksgiving Day fire last November, is set to be rebuilt over the next several months and is scheduled to reopen sometime this fall.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held at the Buffalo Chip's location on Wednesday, almost six months to the day after the devastating arson fire reduced the historic establishment, which first opened in 1961, to a smoking pile of rubble. The ceremony kicks off a construction process that's expected to last four to six months and will create a new and improved version of the Buffalo Chip boasting a similar look and many of the same amenities that its fanbase enjoyed, as well as a few new features.
As you'd expect, the 5,000-square-foot saloon will still have plenty of space for dancing and a stage for country music artists and other live acts and plenty of country kitsch. (And, yes, it will still be a game-day destination for Green Bay Packers fans).
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According to owner Larry Wendt, it will also include larger restroom facilities for both men and women and a modern sprinkler system. He also reportedly purchased a wealth of antique lumber from a vintage saw mill in Washington state dating back to the 1880s that will be incorporated into the décor at the new Buffalo Chip.
"We're gonna rebuild back a period correct building; that's going to make everyone and myself proud,” says Wendt in an interview with FOX 10. “But it's going to be up to code; we're gonna have fire sprinklers and new bathrooms.”
The existing rodeo arena and backyard patio bar, which were relatively undamaged by the fire and reopened in January to serve patrons eager to support the place, will also still be a part of the Buffalo Chip.
Meanwhile, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which investigated the fire, announced last month that an unidentified female out-of-state resident is suspected to have started the fire and is wanted in connection with the case. No arrests have been made and the investigation is still ongoing.