Fred Kruger and Ashlee Zanconato have reopened Powder Hounds after a fire destroyed nearly all of the building in 2012.
HANCOCK, Mass. — In 2012, everything was looking good for Fred Kruger and Ashlee Zanconato. Their restaurant had carved itself out a nice niche and they were on track to do their best year yet.
Then a power strip plugged into an office wall malfunctioned and soon seven fire departments surrounded their business, dousing it with water to snuff out of the flames.
During that October day, they watched as nearly everything was damaged.
Now, nearly two years later, they're back. Powder Hounds, located right at the foot of the entrance to Jiminy Peak, reopened this month after a $1.1 million rebuild.
"Finally, we're done with the building. The rebuild was completed in the middle of April," Zanconato said last week.
Powder Hounds dates back to 1947 — then known as Hansons — and was started by Kruger's family. He inherited the business in 1999 and reopened it as Powder Hounds. Bentley Brook and Vacation Village expanded and with that, the restaurant grew a core clientele of condo owners.
"The tourists that come here are our locals," said Zanconato. "We were really building a great clientele."
Not only had they built a base of condo owners, they had also been growing in popularity among the neighboring towns. Every year they would see the same faces and after the fire, they were asked over and over again when they would reopen.
Rumors had started to swirl that the restaurant wouldn't be back or that another owner would take over.
"Right after the fire happened, we got into a battle with the insurance company," Zanconato said of why it took nearly two years to reopen.
After multiple trips to court, they finally got the funds and approvals to rebuild. But building codes had changed since the restaurant was first constructed in 1947 and there needed to be significantly more work.
Then the Conservation Commission shut down the build, concerned with the wetlands the building sits next to until a survey of those lands could be completed. It also had to come into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. And again, the insurance company was involved in every step.
Nonetheless, they stuck to it and completed the rebuild. Then they reached out and got back nearly all of their staff from before the fire. They got back in touch with all of their vendors. And they got Steve Langille, who headed their kitchen for five years in the past, back as chef.
"We heard all types of things like there were different owners or managers. We want people to know it was us. We tried to make sure everything stays the same for them," Zanconato said of the relaunch.
The dining room was redesigned to give a cozy atmosphere.
The restaurant and bar have a menu with a mix of offerings — mostly based around American comfort food.
The menu is sure to include their customers' favorites, and the two owners made sure to bring back items for particular patrons they had before the fire. But, they still allow the chef to experiment a bit.
"Everything is made with love," Zanconato said to sum up the menu, grasping to find the right words to describe it.
They quietly opened their doors on May 15, as they worked out the bugs in the new systems.
They spread the word through their Facebook page and updated their listing on TripAdvisor and other websites.
"Our numbers have been fantastic since we opened," Zanconato said.
The bar opens at 3 p.m. Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and dinner is served beginning at 4. During the week, the restaurant closes at 9:30 and on the weekends at 10.
"If I have a great bar crowd in here, I'll stay open," Zanconato added of last call.