A family-owned business bounces back one year after fire

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A more than a decade-old restaurant in New Haven reopens its doors. The reason they remained closed, however, isn’t pandemic-related. 

In June 2020, a fire destroyed a French-style, family-owned business called Tourterelle. It happened just days after Vermont restaurant owners could increase their seating capacity.

The Snell family says they got a devastating phone call three months into the pandemic. A neighbor had noticed their restaurant of 12 years in flames. 

“It was surreal. It was the beginning of a long year. Let’s just say that,” said chef and co-owner William Snell.

He and his wife Christine said it appeared to be an electrical fire that caused damage to the kitchen, restaurant, and six-bedroom inn.  

“We had to remodel the full place and start from scratch…Everything was demolished,” said Christine. 

The fire took away their restaurant and what was once their home.  

“From 9 to 17, this was my home. We had an apartment up above and now it’s part of the inn,” said Juliette Snell. 

But after a long year, they’re back with a fresh, new look. 

“We were told that we couldn’t really save anything due to fire damages, water damages but  I decided to go a little more modern, contemporary, minimal,” said Christine.

The bed and breakfast officially reopened June 2. Friday marked exactly one month since they opened. Customers are eager to dine there once again.

“We love to see the energy and willingness that Christine and her family did to pull this together. It makes me cry,” said regular customer JoAnn Hellier-Heinz.

Tourterelle is known for its dining and wedding parties. The Snell’s say they’re grateful to be back and for the community’s support while they were recovering.  

“My mom use to remind me all the time, ‘Toujours de l’avant,’ which means ‘Always going forward,’ said Christine.

Like many businesses these days, the restaurant is looking to hire more staff.

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