The landmark Wildcat Cafe in Yellowknife will not open again until the summer of 2012 because the log building needs maintenance work, the city says. ((CBC))

The Wildcat Cafe, one of Yellowknife's most well-known historic landmarks, will not open next summer while it undergoes much-needed maintenance.

Known as the city's oldest restaurant, the Wildcat continues to operate every summer in its original log structure, making it a popular tourist destination.

Built in 1937, the Wildcat was designated as a heritage building in 1992 by the City of Yellowknife, and officials say they want to preserve the Old Town building for years to come.

"What will be done is the things that are required to take it the next 10, 20 [and] 30 years," Mayor Gordon Van Tighem told CBC News on Friday.

"We're not trying to turn it into a modern, current Building Code, all-season building. We're looking at the real deal and maintaining it into the future."

The city owns the building, and over the years, various restaurateurs have won contracts to operate the Wildcat Cafe during the summers. In the past few years, the contract has gone to Pierre LePage, a local chef and restaurant owner.

Will reopen in 2012

Next summer will mark the second time the Wildcat has undergone renovations. The first time was in the 1970s. The restaurant will reopen in the summer of 2012.

"The summer is the building season and it's also, unfortunately, the season that the Wildcat is open," Van Tighem said. "But we've reached a period in the Wildcat's history that if something doesn't happen, it's not going to be there.

"With the change in our climate and the age, it's at the point where something has to happen, and the next building season is when it's planned to happen."

The city will spend about $500,000 to fix up the historic site, but Van Tighem said the money will be well spent.

"The cost of doing it — which, of course, is capital funds, not tax money — is significant, but [it's] an investment in our future, representing our past," he said.

"The loss of revenue is minimal because it's operated more as a public service than a profit centre. From the city's perspective, I think it will be a much better facility going forward, and it will be there."