Between Fat and Lean
By Peter Erickson
Glacier City Gazette Intern
Jack Sprat has served a variety of food in Girdwood for 17 years. It has become a mainstay amongst locals and a favorite with visitors. Its variety of options have provided customers with a worldly culinary experience suitable for a wide array of palates and food restrictions.
It’s hard to imagine Girdwood without Jack Sprat, but every story has a beginning; and this one happens to takes place in 1985. The building Jack Sprat is currently situated in was constructed in 1985 by Austrian immigrant Alfreda Huff and her family. They called it Edelweiss, and it was in their family for only a few years before Alfreda passed.
Her son tried to keep the business in the family, but that didn’t last and the building changed hands a few times until 2001 when the property was leased to current owners Frans and Jennifer Weits.
They spent several weeks cleaning and fixing up the place before they could open their doors, but it wasn’t long before they were filling seats and stomachs. As the restaurant’s popularity grew, so too did plans for the property.
Several expansions followed, including the popular solarium addition in 2005 and a much needed kitchen remodel in 2011. As lessees, the Weits found it difficult to take on renovation projects, and every time they tried to implement another improvement, they encountered friction with then property owner Chris von Imhof.
It was nothing sordid according to Frans, just the usual differences in opinion that you get when you put two people in a room together, but it did tend to drag out even the simplest of decisions.
So when the Weits’ bought the property last June after leasing for nearly two decades, they felt compelled to take on a major remodel.
“We were excited! We wanted to do something without running it past the landlord,” Frans said.
The Weits’ took the building and really made it their own, adding a second kitchen for prep and catering capacity, extra walk-in coolers, a wine cellar and the new dining room that will seat up to 30 additional people.
“We had those seats in the summer so we knew the kitchen could handle it but we wanted to do it every day instead of 20% of the year,” Frans said.
Going from patio seating to year-round indoor seating to gain access to the additional revenue was a sound business decision, but somehow maintaining a patio feel after enclosing the space took vision and skill.
Enter Jennifer Weits, co-owner of Jack Sprat and Interior Designer with local architecture firm Z Architects. She was able to look at the challenge with the sense of a business owner and the eye and recourses of a professional interior designer, apply them in equal measure and turn out a final addition that speaks for itself.
“I’m really happy with the way the room turned out. My inspiration for the space came from the Jack Sprat idea of fat and lean and I attempted to relay that through plays on light (clear crisp pine) and dark (charred burnt hardwood),” Jennifer said.
The room still has some finishing touches such as acoustical sound panels to mitigate noise and custom art for the notches near the ceiling, but Jack Sprat has already begun utilizing it for its intended purpose, and all-around feedback seems to be positive so far.
As you walk into the recent addition, the first thing you might notice is the vaulted ceilings. It is paneled with a lighter wood that, when coupled with the large Nanowall window bay, allows for a great deal of natural light to fill the room giving it that iconic Girdwood feel of being outdoors even when you aren’t.
Or you might notice the charred cypress wall in the Japanese Suyaki style. It’s cracked and blackened texture in stark contrast to the rest of the area.
“My favorite thing in the room aside from the fireplace is the lighting installation of hand blown glass from Canada. I especially love that I can nest air plants in the blown bubble cavities,” Jennifer said.
It is apparent that a great deal of thought, time, and care was put into this most recent renovation, and because of it, we can look forward to expanded hours of operation, room reservations for large parties, catering services, and if history holds course, even more exciting renovations in the future.