Building 37 of Fort Seward, the old quartermaster house. (Lex Treinen/Chilkat Valley News)

One of the staples of the Haines summer food scene says it’s closing for good. 

Fireweed Restaurant owner Sarah Jaymot wrote in a public Facebook post that she wouldn’t open this summer because of the conditions of the building she had been operating in, located in Building #37 of Fort Seward. 

Jaymot said she had repeatedly asked her landlords — the Port Chilkoot Company — to repair a leaky roof on the building, and that her requests had been ignored. Lee Heinmiller, president of the Port Chilkoot Company, denied that account, saying that some of Jaymot’s messages hadn’t been received. And, he said, the Port Chilkoot Company’s requests to enter the building to assess repairs had been ignored. 

Jaymot did not respond to phone calls or a Facebook message for more details. 

The closure is a blow for the community, said tourism director Rebecca Hylton. 

“It’s frustrating from my position,” she said. “Food is important to visitors, and it’s a draw. Now we have one less established restaurant. It’s a lose-lose for our community and for tourism.” 

The shuttering of the Fireweed — which was known as a large social gathering place that hosted concerts and served alcohol — comes at a difficult time for the restaurant industry in Haines. Mountain Market and the Bamboo Room have both shortened operating hours because of difficulty finding staffing. 

Bamboo Room owner Christy Fowler said finding employees has been harder than ever, even though she has boosted wages for employees and expanded her job listings worldwide. She said that in some ways, the closure of the Fireweed is a boon for the Bamboo Room since it will drive more customers her way, but it’s a mixed blessing without staff. 

“We embrace the extra business, we’ll be glad to have it, but it requires cooks and that’s the hard part,” she said. 

Mayor Tom Morphet also called the news a “blow” for the Haines community. 

He said he was hoping to host a meeting of current and potential restaurant owners to discuss ways to make it easier for restaurants in town to operate. 

“What we can do to help out our restaurant owners is a worthwhile question,” he said.