By Dave Russell
Bogart’s Restaurant is slowly coming back to life following a July 15 fire. The 145-seat restaurant, a longtime fixture of Sylva’s dining scene, was near capacity at about 7:45 p.m. when a grease fire started in the kitchen. No injuries were reported.
Independent investigators employed by the insurance company released the scene last Thursday.
“They did a thorough investigation to make sure that the hood worked the way it was supposed to,” Bogart’s owner Tim Hall said. “It was definitely a grease fire and we were not held accountable or anything.”
The kitchen had a fire suppression system but it was not enough to put out the fire, he said.
“I haven’t seen any findings or anything but one of the investigators said ‘If it was arson, it’d be at 3 a.m. with nobody in the building. You don’t have arson with a restaurant full of people and all your employees here,’” he said.
Now fire and water cleanup specialists with Servpro can finish the mitigation process and clearing the scene of debris and items from the restaurant’s interior, Hall said.
“They’re finishing up the cleanup,” Hall said. “The main window has been taken out so they can get the rest of the booths out. That’s the only way of getting them in and out.”
The booths do not require replacement, just a good cleaning, he said.
Servpro will serve as the general contractor for reconstruction, Hall said.
“They’ve been dealing with fire investigators and all that,” he said. “We’re still waiting on the insurance people to give us numbers and everything.”
Bogart’s employs about 40 people.
“We’ve been paying most of our employees,” he said. “We’ve been paying them a little bit at a time. We’re getting ready to pay them this week from the fundraisers folks have had for us. Most of them are working other jobs or drawing unemployment.”
The community has responded generously to fundraisers to help his employees, Hall said.
“I’d like to thank our community friends who contributed to the fundraiser at Zaxby’s and Jim Rodgers of Zaxby’s,” Hall said. “I’d also like to thank the people who participated in a fundraiser hosted by Belinda Bryson and Stevie Bradley of Scentsy.”
It is too early to talk about a date for re-opening.
“The dates we’ve been given were four to six months from the time of the fire,” he said. “Servpro is kind of in and out, because of all the flooding in Haywood County. That has been a mess.”
Four to six months from July 15 would be sometime between mid-November and mid-January.