Fire destroys Don Cherry’s pub in Maple Ridge

Cause not determined, police are calling it suspicious

What remains of Don Cherry's Sports Grill after a suspicious fire Thursday evening.

What remains of Don Cherry's Sports Grill after a suspicious fire Thursday evening.

A suspicious fire destroyed Don Cherry’s Sports Grill at the south end of 224th Street in Maple Ridge Tuesday night.

Witnesses reported hearing an explosion just before 7:30 p.m. and saw black smoke and flames coming from the old two-storey, 7,000-square-foot wooden structure, formerly the Gourmet Hideaway.

By the time fire crews arrived, the pub, which closed two months ago, had been gutted by flames, some shooting 30 metres into the air.

It took 40 firefighters 20 minutes to put it out, with most of the damage occurring on the south side of the pub, facing the Fraser River.

No injuries have been reported.

Eight fire engines were used by the Maple Ridge Fire Department to put out the fire. Another four were on stand-by.

Smoke from the fire could be seen as far away as 228th Street and Lougheed Highway.

No neighbouring buildings, including historic Haney House, were damaged.

The cause of the fire and extent of damage hasn’t been determined yet. Investigators are to meet with the property owners soon.

“We haven’t had a chance to do too much with it yet, but over the next couple of days, we’ll be assisting the RCMP in conducting a thorough investigation,” Maple Ridge fire chief Dane Spence said.

RCMP Cpl. Alanna Dunlop said it could take several weeks to determine the cause of the suspicious fire and asks anyone with more information to contact police.

“The preliminary investigation has revealed that this was not a naturally occurring event,” she added.

“It is fortunate that no one was injured as a result of this fire.”

Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin praised firefighters for containing the fire and preserving nearby properties, including Haney House.

“I’m thankful no body was hurt. There are townhouses located just behind the building that caught fire. I’m also glad The Haney House Museum is okay. It’s an important part of our history.”

While the south Haney neighbourhood has deteriorated in recent years, Daykin says re-development plans are in the works to bring it back to its former glory.

“Right beside the fire, there’s a four-storey apartment being built and we’ve got an application in for a new hotel just up the street. It’s a neighbourhood in transition,” he added.

“We’re just working our way through it. It’s the old side of the community, but I know we’re overcoming some of the challenges in the area. We have neighbourhood groups who are looking to move their neighbourhood forward.”

The Maple Ridge location was one of 17 Don Cherry-themed restaurants in Canada.

However, it closed briefly last year, then reopened. The property, at 11598 – 224th Street, and building are currently listed for sale on by agent Cass MacLeod of Coldwell Banker for $1.01 million.

According to the description, both are priced below assessed value.

The 5,000-square-foot building, with 100-seat restaurant upstairs, 60-seat lounge downstairs and licenced brick patio, had been completely renovated.

“Area is being completely redeveloped with a new hotel and condos. Own your own turnkey pub style restaurant and lounge. Brand new booths, paint, signage, kitchen equipment, draft system … This location has been a very successful upscale gourmet dining and sports pub business in past. Very unique opportunity.”

The Maple Ridge Don Cherry’s franchise location, the first in B.C., opened in March 2010, when it was owned by MacLeod, Tyler Hall and Amber Brown. Hall and Brown had operated the Gourmet Hideaway for the previous two and a half years.

MacLeod said he couldn’t comment on the fire, but that Brown is currently listed as the owner and that he hasn’t been involved in the business for a while.

Brown was unavailable for comment.