TELLURIDE – Five months after a fire destroyed Telluride’s oldest and most iconic restaurant, Baked In Telluride appears poised for a comeback.
The Historic and Architectural Review Commission will consider final approval of an application to reproduce the historic building form and materials that stood at 127 South Fir St. when it meets next Wed., July 14, starting at 6 p.m.
The intent is to remain true to the appearance of the original 40-feet wide by 100-feet long gable-roofed warehouse structure while meeting all current code regulations.
“We’re trying to build it as it was,” said project architect Peter Sante, indicating that he has a complete set of measured drawings and framing plans from which to replicate the original space.
“Our application does not include additional tenants/condos above or below.”
Sante said that because BIT was a beloved community institution and the property owners, the family of Joseph P. Zoline, are not seeking additional square footage or to substantively alter the appearance of the original structure, he does not envision any major obstacles to HARC’s approval of the application next week.
Because the space is less than 5,000 square feet it is considered a small-scale activity and requires one HARC meeting.
“If the HARC board decides they want more information they could continue it to another meeting,” Sante explained.
BIT, owned and operated by Jerry Greene, served countless affordable meals to locals and visitors alike since opening its doors in 1976. One of the town’s largest employers, it also supplied a variety of bagels and breads from challah to sprouted wheat to retail outlets in the region.
On Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Telluride Fire Protection District received a call around 10:10 p.m. from BIT employees who were cleaning the restaurant after it had closed. They reported smoke entering the back bakery area through the floor above a crawl space.
Despite the valiant efforts of more than 40 volunteer firefighters who attempted to contain the blaze, they could never reach the source of the elusive fire, which inspectors later determined was triggered by heat from the bakery oven that dried out the surrounding wood after years of intense use.
When asked how quickly he could be up and operating if HARC approves the project next week, Greene, the presumed tenant of the new building, responded, “The faster the better.”
“I looked at other locations, but they were all too expensive or not that suitable or both,” he said.
And while there’s no question that the fire was a devastating loss for not just Greene but the entire Telluride community, the upshot to the new construction is the opportunity to fix some of the old design flaws in the internal space.
“We’ll design the layout to suit the bakery,” Greene said.
“We will use the best of what it used to be and make some improvements,” he continued.
For example, “There won’t be that false ceiling in service area.”