WENDELL, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Fire crews battled a blaze at Wendell's Farmhouse Restaurant, now a complete loss. The owner speaks out, says the restaurant was her home away from home.
Early Tuesday at 2 a.m. Farmhouse Restaurant Owner Stephanie Otero received a phone call, saying her business was on fire.
The Wendell Rural Fire Department responded to the call at 1:42 a.m. for a commercial structure fire and managed to contain the blaze to the back of the building.
The fire department called out the State Fire Marshal, Jerome City Fire and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to investigate Tuesday. The investigation was completed around 6 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., said a worker from the Wendell Fire Department.
The report said the cause of the fire is undetermined.
Otero said she feels upset that the crews were not able to figure out where the fire started.
"It makes you feel better if you have an answer and not having one is just disturbing, and it makes you wonder what it was, what could've caused it and what could've prevented it," she said.
Although crews were not able to determine what started the fire, she is still grateful for the officials.
"They were honestly amazing," Otero continued. "Even the firefighters, they were some of our regulars. Especially the Wendell PD."
Otero tells KMVT she was up from 2 a.m. Tuesday when she got the call and went back home at 2 p.m.
"When you have time to sit there and process it, you really think about it. You break down more, you really do," she expressed.
She said she has worked at the restaurant for 19 years and got the job as a "fluke."
"A friend of mine was working here," she said. "We were in high school, and she needed help because the other buser didn't show up."
The owner at the time liked her and asked her to start right away, she said.
"It's a home away from home," she said of her restaurant.
She said she is worried about the employees and regular customers.
"It's not just working here. It's a second family, honestly," she continued. "Just to not see their faces every day again, just yelling at them like 'Hey, mamma, I need some gravy.' You don't get to do that now."
She said she has been working with insurance and waiting for an adjuster to figure out what to do next.
"Looking at it and the way we're looking at it the way it is... Time will tell and we'll see where we'll go from there," she said.
Otero has seen the community come together through the loss.
"The positive thing about it too is just to see how much the community really did love the Farmhouse. Honestly, they were here all the time, they proved it that way. It doesn't just affect us, it affects them," she said.
Otero said she does not how much money and content has been lost in the fire.