Reward offered in fire at Sprout's Inn construction site

Fire damaged one of the walls at the new Sprout's Inn construction site Sunday morning. (H-W Photo/Maggie Menderski)
Posted: Mar. 31, 2013 3:29 pm Updated: Apr. 14, 2013 4:15 pm

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Jennifer Wiemelt thought it was a joke.

She received a text from her husband, Bill, around 6 a.m. Sunday to learn about a fire on the site where Sprout's Inn was being rebuilt at 2814 N. 12th.

The historic Quincy restaurant was gutted in a four-alarm fire on June 14, 2012, and construction work on the new facility had recently started.

"Everything seems to be working against us, but we'll keep going forward," said Wiemelt, who owns and manages the business. "I can't believe someone would do this to us."

The Quincy Fire Department responded to a small fire at 6:20 a.m. Sunday. Fire officials said firefighters extinguished the fire quickly, and damage was minimal.

Officials believe the fire was intentionally set. The QFD and Quincy Police Department conducted investigations at the scene.

Wiemelt said she originally was offering a $1,000 reward for information about the fire, but other community members have given her about $500 more to offer after learning about the fire.

"I can't believe someone would be that horrible," Wiemelt said.

Wiemelt said the walls for the new building were in place, and that the ceiling was to be added soon. However, one of the walls received enough damage from the fire that it must be replaced.

"It's going to set us back about another week," she said.

Wiemelt's husband, Bill, is the general contractor for the new restaurant. She said plans called for the restaurant to open in mid-June, but Sunday's setback means the opening likely will be in mid-July.

Wiemelt hasn't seen much of the construction work. She's been in St. Louis at Children's Hospital with her 17-year-old daughter, Summer, for the past two weeks. Summer was diagnosed with acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, an immune disorder that is characterized by a brief attack of inflammation of the brain and spinal cord.

"We did get good news (Monday), because Summer gets to come home (Tuesday)," Wiemelt said. "Any other day, I'd be more upset about Sprout's. Today, I'm more excited for my daughter."

Anyone with information about the fire's cause should contact the the Quincy Police Department at (217) 228-4470.

Sprout's Inn was first started in 1940 by the late Cecil "Sprout" McClean, Wiemelt's grandfather, at 1029 Broadway. A new building was constructed at 2814 N. 12th in 1950 and had a seating capacity of 65. In 1955, a new dining room and kitchen were added, giving the restaurant seating capacity of 200 people. The restaurant was again enlarged in 1974, and a patio was later added to the north side of the restaurant.

Wiemelt is the third generation to be involved in the business.