A fire at Alder Inn in September has left the Langley Township with a costly decision to make regarding the building they acquired through a $5.4-million deal in June.
The inn – a nearly six-decade-old hotel, liquor store and bar that opened up at the downtown corner of 272nd Street and Fraser Highway in 1948 – has been uninhabitable since the blaze on Sept. 20.
An electrical fire sparked in one of the inn’s upper rooms where tenants stayed. It resulted in “significant” smoke, fire, and water damage to much of the building, said Township assistant fire chief Pat Walker, corroborated by Township manager of property services Scott Thompson.
“And after further inspection [the damage] created other issues related to deferred maintenance,” explained Thompson.
Both the tenants as well as workers of the family-owned downstairs restaurant Schnitzelz have been displaced. Only the inn’s ground-level beer and wine store remains open and in operation.
Currently the Township is conducting a cost-benefit analysis “to see if the building can be repurposed and renovated,” Thompson elaborated, or whether such a cost would outweigh the inn’s hefty purchase.
“We won’t know the results until the end of March,” Thompson said.
It is around the same time that the lower-level liquor store will conclude the time agreed to in its current lease.
“It is a very old building,” Thompson added.
Schnitzels owner Sunil Vasdev and his family remain heartbroken after four years of building a regular customer base in Aldergrove – “the first year we opened we worked 12 hours a day,” he elaborated.
“Five of us lost our job in one day… my wife starts crying anytime we talk about the restaurant,” Vasdev said to the Aldergrove Star on Sunday.
Vasdev and his family went from managing their own business in September, to working lesser-paying jobs elsewhere in order to provide for their family.
The Vasdevs are hoping that the Township will decide to repair the damage caused by the fire and other maintenance issues in the restaurant.
The family continues to seek avenues for Schnitzelz to reopen and operate within the community again.
The Sept. 20 fire that ultimately lead to the three-month closure of the Alder Inn and its businesses also threatens a precious piece of history, some Aldergrove residents maintain.
The Alder Inn was first constructed in 1948 as the “Aldergrove Hotel” after another fire destroyed the former Western Home Hotel on the same property sometime in the 1920s.
Prior to that the southeast corner boasted a bunkhouse for sawmills and logging camps, Alder Grove Heritage Society records show.
The Western Home Hotel was known among Fraser Valley residents as “the best hotel between New Westminster and Chilliwack.”
In those years it sold candy for a penny and had a big red barn for tenants’ horses.