HESPERIA — The resurrection of the Summit Inn began Monday, less than two weeks after the Bluecut Fire destroyed the historic diner that sat atop the Cajon Pass for 64 years.
Co-owner Otto Recinos told the Daily Press he and his family are in “salvage mode” as they search the ruins.
“A lot of stuff was looted after the fire, like the napkin holders that were on the tables,” Recinos said, “(but) there’s a lot of nostalgia in the place.”
As such, Recinos is on the lookout for anything that will bring memories of the old into the new Summit Inn once it’s constructed, including the fireplace that survived the fire.
“We’re taking the fireplace apart stone by stone,”Recinos said. “Those stones are from the original building that burned in 1936. Now it’s burned again, and we’re going to save all the stone and build it again in the new Summit.”
Additionally, what’s left of the barstools will also be salvaged and included in the new restaurant, according to Recinos, who said there’s already a general contractor and architect involved in the rebuild project.
“By the end of the week, we should have an idea (on a timeframe),” he said. “We have to install a new septic system for sewage treatment that will cost $350,000. Since we’re preexisting, we’re going to see if the city (of Hesperia) will be lenient on some (code-related) stuff with the rebuild.”
Construction of the new restaurant will take between eight to 12 months once it begins depending on code enforcement issues, according to Recinos.
Meanwhile, demolition has started, and part of what’s removed from the site will soon serve a new purpose, though not as a historic diner. Much of the burned rubble will end up in a landfill, but the concrete foundation and asphalt from the parking lot will be recycled for future infrastructure improvements in the High Desert, according to Emery Materials Manager Paul Emery.
Emery Materials — a concrete and asphalt recycling company based in Hesperia — received the rubble Monday.
“We stockpile asphalt and crush it,” Emery said, “ and that makes a product that we then sell back to construction and paving companies for street and parking lot improvements.”
The recycled product — called Crushed Miscellaneous Base — is a green alternative to the landfill, according to Emery.
“We’re recycling in a positive productive manner,” he said. “This is exactly what we're promoting. Something that’s being processed and put out there as a usable product.”
The CMB product will only be sold to local businesses because shipping stays within a 20-mile radius, according to Emery.
“The trucking would cost more to move (the CMB) long distances,” he said. “I only sell locally. It has to stay local.”
Recinos and his family have two upcoming events in the works to honor the Summit Inn, however, no official dates have been set. One is expected to be a hot rod show that will serve as a memorial to the lost diner. The second will be a sign-lighting ceremony.
“I’ve had a lot of locals tell me the top of the Cajon Pass doesn’t feel the same without the sign, so we’re working on getting power up there,” Recinos said. “We’ll re-light the sign and raise the flag. The sign was like a guiding post (for Interstate 15 travelers).”
Matthew Cabe can be reached at MCabe@VVDailyPress.com or at 760-951-6254. Follow him on Twitter @DP_MatthewCabe.