MOULTONBOROUGH — A little more than six months since the Lakes Region landmark restaurant The Woodshed burned to the ground, the cause of the fire has still not been found, and the owners are selling the property.
The owners considered rebuilding, said part-owner Scott Ouellette, but have decided not to rebuild the restaurant in a 19th-century building that was once a farmhouse.
“We considered rebuilding, but the cost of rebuilding would be far greater than selling the property,” Ouellette said. “We just feel we could never create the same old feeling that we used to have at the restaurant, but maybe a buyer will want to do that.”
If a buyer wants to build a restaurant called The Woodshed on the site, which is zoned for commercial and residential use, “we would have to negotiate for the name rights, but we would welcome that,” he said.
The 2,000-square-foot restaurant on 12 acres was converted to a restaurant about 40 years ago. Ouellette bought the restaurant about 18 months ago with three partners.
The restaurant, considered one of the best on the north end of Lake Winnipesaukee, featured 40 years of memorabilia and photos of famous people, such as the late actor Henry Fonda, who ate there.
Firefighters said the fire spread through the building quickly because of its age and the ample “fuel” for the fire inside, including mementos, books, ornaments and other items that Ouellette said helped give the restaurant its character.
On the night of the fire, the last person in the restaurant left just before 9 p.m., employees said. The fire was reported just before 10 p.m., and by 11 p.m. the building was engulfed in flames.
State fire investigators said they may never know the cause of the fire because the building was so old and there was so much debris.
About 40 employees lost their jobs. Most or all have found work at area restaurants, Ouellette said, including some who have been hired at the owners’ other restaurants, such as The Canoe Restaurant in Center Harbor.
The building was valued at $401,500 before it burned, according to town officials.
Ouellette said a sales price for the property will be set in coming days.
“The Realtors just started working on a price,” he said.
The restaurant’s owners had been thinking of building a memorial to the restaurant somewhere nearby, but have decided instead to honor it by offering Woodshed specialties by name at The Canoe.
“We’ll be offering The Woodshed’s famous Escargot Rockefeller at The Canoe, that’s one of our tributes,” Ouellette said.