Owner Joe Marver has put damaged building on the market
By Ann McCreary
More than two years after fire extensively damaged the Twisp River Pub, an arson case remains open and the formerly popular gathering place remains closed.
Twisp Police Chief Paul Budrow said this week that the case will likely remain open “until the statute of limitations runs out, which is 10 years.”
Evidence submitted to the State Patrol crime laboratory for analysis didn’t “doesn’t lead to anybody personally,” said Budrow, who led an investigation into the fire. Video surveillance cameras inside the pub were too badly damaged by the fire to be useful in the investigation, he said.
The pub was owned by Aaron Studen when it burned during an early morning fire on Feb. 29, 2016. Studen’s insurance company conducted a separate investigation into the fire, and in 2017 “paid the limit of the policy,” Studen said.
Joe Marver, who owns the Twisp River Suites next to the pub, purchased the pub property from Studen in March last year. He announced plans to restore the burned building, which had significant structural and smoke damage and open a restaurant and event venue.
However, those plans were subsequently dropped and the property is for sale. Marver said a crew of Liberty Bell High School seniors are expected to “come in with masks and protection to begin a glass and wall cleaning seminar at the pub to give it a better-looking interior and to assess what needs to happen next. Perhaps then a floor cleaning assessment.”
The work, planned for early March, is being done as part of a senior project, Marver said. He said the cleaning will help the building “appeal to possible buyers or investors,” Marver said. “I’m still open to whatever direction looks best. I personally would not run a restaurant. If investors want to run it, then they should buy it. If someone wants a brewery and restaurant that would be the most ideal,” he said.
Twisp River Suites held events last spring and summer in the pub’s outdoor patio area adjacent to the hotel, and Marver said he plans to host more events there while he still owns the property.
The pub fire began about 2:30 a.m. on Feb. 29, 2016, in an office near the back of the building, next to the restaurant kitchen. That part of the building was the most badly damaged, although the restaurant and bar area toward the front of the building sustained considerable damage from water and smoke.
Among the indications that the fire was arson was a pile of burned restaurant rags soaked in accelerant that was found in the restaurant, in an area that was not otherwise burned. A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to arrest and/or conviction in connection with the fire through the Arson Alarm Foundation.
An initial investigation was led by a Douglas County fire marshal and was then turned over to the Twisp Police Department. Chief Budrow conducted dozens of interviews as part of the investigation.
Studen rebuilt the pub at its location on Highway 20 after a fire destroyed his first restaurant and pub on Second Avenue in 2001. The Twisp River Pub had been listed for sale for about three years before the fire, and kitchen renovations had been completed about two months prior to the fire.