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Buffalo Chip Saloon partial reopening planned for this month


Tara Alatorre

CAVE CREEK – The Buffalo Chip is taking the necessary steps to reopen by next Friday, Jan. 15, which is contingent on an inspection from the Maricopa County Health Department. Only the back area would be open because the front building was declared a total loss after a suspicious fire destroyed it this past Thanksgiving.

The iconic Cave Creek establishment will still have bull riding, a band, and serve barbeque, despite only having the rear bar and “Wagon Camp Area,” of the establishment open, said Larry Wendt, the owner of the saloon last Friday during a phone interview.

“If the health department lets us know by Tuesday (Jan. 12), we can still get everything set for bull riding this Friday,” said Wendt. “If they do not let us know by Tuesday, then we can’t get the bulls in place and everything, and that is why we would be opening the following Friday.”

Wendt brought in trailers for a temporary kitchen and bathroom space. Also, special care had to be taken to remove the asbestos from the burned down bar before the county would allow the establishment to reopen.

This week, the charred remains of where the Buffalo Chip saloon used to be will be torn down, but it will take at least four to six months before it is rebuilt and ready for Cave Creek residents to saddle up to the bar.

“The outpouring from the community was so strong,” said Wendt. “It gave me the energy to just really tear into this rebuild project.”

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the fire as arson, and does have a person of interest they are pursuing, but no arrests have been made at this time, according to Shawn Gilleland of the Rural Metro Fire Department.

Rural Metro Fire Department was the first to respond after being dispatched to the fire on Nov. 26, 2015, after a janitorial crew reported rolls of toilet paper on fire in the women’s bathroom, said Gilleland in an email.

MCSO did not respond to Foothills Focus media requests by press time.