BREWER – The community is trying to figure out what’s next after a fire destroyed what was supposed to be the latest addition to the Brewer waterfront.
The fire that tore through the yet-to-open Whiskey River Smokehouse restaurant was an accident and is believed to the result of construction, according to Brewer Public Safety Director Jason Moffitt.
The restaurant was supposed to open soon but now glass and debris litter the ground and the building is surrounded by caution tape.
Part of South Main Street shut down Friday evening as several area fire departments battled a fire that went through the roof.
On Sunday, locals drove by the building, seeing what is left.
“All of us employees at Save-A-Lot were hoping to go here for lunch and I’m hoping they rebuild,” said Debbie Anderson, who works next door to where the fire took place.
“I actually smelled that it was happening when I was picking up my kid from the rec program that evening,” said Brewer Mayor Bev Uhlenhake.
Uhlenhake said she doesn’t know if the owner will rebuild, but she believes they did have insurance.
In her other job as a real estate broker, she’s the one that sold this building that before the fire had been vacant for a decade.
“I remember him coming over here and looking around and saying ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do yet, but I’m going to make this amazing’, and I suspect that that’s not changed,” said Uhlenhake.
The owner, who also runs Kosta’s and High Tide Restaurant & Bar, could not be reached to say whether or not they’d rebuild. But on Whiskey River’s Facebook page, a statement said that they would have to recuperate and reevaluate.
It’s not the first time fire destroyed a Brewer business. Cap’s Tavern, down the street, caught fire in 2017.
“It brought back nightmares you know, I lost my place that way … The city of Brewer really helped and was really great,” said Del Merritt, the owner of Cap’s Tavern.
Cap’s Tavern was rebuilt and reopened half a year later and people who spoke to ABC 7/Fox 22 in Brewer said they hope Whiskey River will do the same.
“Hopefully he can see the way to rebuild and fulfill his dream,” said Merritt.
“The waterfront has been growing and developing for decades, I don’t suspect that one fire, one accident will change that,” said Uhlenhake.