Restaurant owners busy rebuilding Ferguson’s Cafe, Milk Bottle

Nearly four months since a fire destroyed both Ferguson’s Cafe and The Milk Bottle in Spokane’s historic Garland District, both owners are rebuilding and hope to open very soon.

On September 25, horrified neighbors looked on as the two iconic restaurants went up in flames. Ferguson’s, known for the many movies shot there, and The Milk Bottle, built in 1935, would have to be rebuilt. On Monday, progress was being made as construction workers tore off the roof of The Milk Bottle.

?It does look sad, it’s kind of in pieces,? owner Kris Ritchie said.

Ritchie and her husband own The Milk Bottle ? a place that could be called ?Mecca? for many born and raised in Spokane.

?After the fire, every hour of every day it seemed like there was a new story on Facebook or someone stopping by and visiting us and just walking up and telling us what The Milk Bottle meant to them,? Ritchie said.

It means a lot to her, too, as The Milk Bottle is her family’s livelihood. They’ve struggled in the last four months to make ends meet and care for their employees who had to find other work. They got started on the permitting and rebuilding process right after the fire and Monday saw their hard work come to fruition. Inside, the restaurant is completely gutted. Ritchie says they’ll rebuild the diner so it looks like it did before the fire, but include a few minor changes.

?The ceiling part of the milk bottle will be raised about 15 feet high,? Ritchie said.

The 33,000 pound milk bottle’s insides are now exposed to the interior of the restaurant. The contractor in charge of rebuilding The Milk Bottle reinforced it with steel beams. When the diner reopens, the hollowed-out milk bottle will be lined with neon lights.

?I’m thinking we should close down the street and have a party and feed as many people as we can,? Ritchie said in excitement. She can’t wait for April; that’s when both Ferguson’s and The Milk Bottle plan to reopen.

The Spokane Fire Department says the investigation into the fire is ongoing and they are looking into a lot of leads. They did say the fire is being investigated as incendiary in nature, which means human started, but didn’t go as far as saying arson was the cause.

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