Posted by Steve Lettau on Nov 10, 2020

Eddie Morales Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Photo Mike De Sisti

The cheel, a popular Thiensville restaurant set in a historic building, was determined to be a total loss after firefighters battled the structure’s second-story blaze Sunday.

“Just got the word… it’s a total loss,” the cheel said Monday in a Facebook post. 

Thiensville Fire Chief Brian Reiels said the Sunday afternoon fire was contained to the building. It took firefighters about two hours to get the blaze under control, he said.

The 3 p.m. fire call was upgraded to a second box alarm which sought assistance from fire departments in Cedarburg, Mequon, Grafton, Port Washington, North Shore, Saukville, Lisbon, Milwaukee, Fredonia, Butler, Menomonee Falls, Slinger, Wauwatosa and Brookfield.

“There were a lot of difficult areas for us to reach due to the significant damage to the attic space,” Reiels said. “We were trying to get at those spots, but possible structural collapse from the outside slowed us down quite a bit.”

Reiels said the cause of the fire was still being investigated as of Monday afternoon.

“We fought hotspots for quite a while because of the nature of construction,” he said. “It’s an older building.”

The cheel’s historic name is the Commercial House Hotel, according to Wisconsin Historical Society property records. The Queen Anne-style architecture was built as a residence in 1895 and converted to a tavern that same year. The building’s second floor served as a hotel in 1915. Restaurants have occupied the historic building since 1970. 

The cheel owners Jesse and Barkha Daily planned a permanent $250,000 pavilion that was set to debut in November.

Earl Schlieve, a Thiensville resident for over 30 years, stood outside the cheel Monday to see what remained of it before the building’s loss was announced.

“I would like to see them rebuild something there,” Schlieve said. “I don’t know if the building can be saved.”

Village President Van Mobley said he watched the fire with shock and sadness.

“A tragedy has struck, but Thiensville and the cheel will endure,” Mobley wrote in a statement. “We are thankful that no one was hurt and eagerly anticipate the future, when good shall emerge from this in ways that we can’t yet discern.