Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Sweet Divine Owners Expect Six-Month Gut Rehab After Fire

Posted By on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 2:48 PM

click to enlarge Jenna and Jason Siebert plan to rebuild the Sweet Divine bakery after a fire. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
  • Photo by Doyle Murphy
  • Jenna and Jason Siebert plan to rebuild the Sweet Divine bakery after a fire.

Jenna and Jason Siebert spent Tuesday sorting through the wreckage of their Soulard bakery.

The kitchen and decorating room in the back of the Sweet Divine (1801 S. Ninth St.; 636-942-2900) are charred black. The melted brown plastic sides of a coffee machine dangle off a shelf, like a chocolate fountain in suspended motion.

"Our shop was so cute," Jenna says, surveying the damage. "But we're going to rebuild, and we're going to make it even cuter."

The shop had been closed on Monday when the fire began. Jason had stopped by earlier before making a supply run to prepare for a busy two days of events. He'd been gone maybe two hours when, at 11 a.m., black smoke signaled trouble. 
click to enlarge The sides of a coffee machine melted in the extreme heat of the fire. - PHOTO BY DOYLE MURPHY
  • Photo by Doyle Murphy
  • The sides of a coffee machine melted in the extreme heat of the fire.

Firefighters responded and were able to quickly control the fire, but not before it wrecked the shop. A faulty freezer compressor appears to be to blame. It burned through the floor of the decorating room, melting plumbing and frying the building's wiring as it crashed through to the basement.

The fire was contained to the back of the building and to where it spread in the basement, but the smoke permeated the shop and an upstairs apartment, leaving a layer of soot on everything. The sour smell of wet ash has replaced the aroma of baking cakes. 

The Sieberts are trying to shake off the shock of the fire and focus on relaunching their business, which won national acclaim in 2012 with a victory on Food Network's Cupcake Wars. They spent the morning meeting with insurance adjusters, talking to their contractor and calling disaster cleanup companies. 

The repair will require a gut rehab, Jenna says, and they're estimating it will take six months. In the meantime, they plan to rent kitchen space off-site and continue to fill orders. The Sweet Divine began as a food truck, and they expect to lean heavily on that foundation as they rebuild.

Fans of the popular shop can follow the progress on the shop's Twitter and Facebook accounts, where Jenna and Jason have already begun posting updates. 

"Nobody got hurt, which is fantastic," Jason says. "Now we need to focus on getting back to work."

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.

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