Inferno consumes Statesmen owner's establishment

A fire sparked on Nov. 20 by a faulty clothes dryer burned down the Wadsworth Grill, which stood on Route 36, about five minutes outside of Geneseo.

Karen Uhl, who also manages the Statesmen Bar & Grill on Court Street, owned the grill. Uhl, a Geneseo alumna, purchased the Wadsworth Grill in 1987 and was living in an apartment above the bar. The fire was called in at 12:41 p.m. by neighbors, and all employees and patrons were safely evacuated.

The second floor was damaged beyond repair by the fire and collapsed roof. Although the first floor suffered only water damage, Uhl cited the expensive process of gutting the building as a reason to rebuild it completely. Some of the furniture and supplies may be salvageable. A lawsuit may be filed against the manufacturer of the dryer.

"The firemen were great about getting a lot of the stuff out," said Uhl, referring to the memorabilia and historical pictures and artifacts that had been in the bar, which is a historical landmark and was at one time used as an inn by stage coach travelers.

Until the Wadsworth Grill re-opens, some loyal customers are making the trek to the Statesmen. Uhl has made an effort to save jobs that were lost at the Wadsworth Grill, and is attempting to mix some of the features of the Wadsworth with those of the Statesmen. For the time being, Uhl said she thinks "it'll blend all right."

In the meantime, Uhl has received extensive support from the community as she works through "an emotional rollercoaster." She is staying in an apartment on Main Street donated by landlord friends, and has received gifts, donations and support from locals, patrons, and Geneseo fraternities and sororities. "Everybody's been wonderful," she said. "Sometimes people can be pretty amazing."

"The intent is definitely to rebuild," said Uhl. She said that the grill was an important part of the community and that there is strong support to bring it back. She estimated that a re-opening could possibly take place between April and June of next year, but that it is too early to say anything definitively.