Georgetown restaurant was seeing economic recovery before devastating fire

Published: Nov. 18, 2021 at 5:19 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2021 at 6:43 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WCSC) - The team at a Front Street restaurant in Georgetown says they were seeing the benefits from record tourism numbers and seeing more people willing to work until an overnight fire left the restaurant’s future in question.

Robert Ashley Carter is the longtime owner of the building.

“Business was considerably hurt with the COVID,” Carter said. “And just in the last few months now we’ve been recovering from that. I say we, my tenant, who is [Anthony] Chacon that owns the restaurant, he’s been recovering very well, and really in the last several weeks, business has been pretty darn good.”

The Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce says South Carolina’s Hammock Coast has seen tourism increase annually for the past decade.

Director of Tourism Development Mark Stevens says the Georgetown County Accommodations Tax is tracked monthly and quarterly. Based on the 2% ATAX collection, over the previously tracked quarter (June, July and August), Georgetown County tourism collection was up 26.1% this year compared to last year, and up 33% compared to 2019.

But after this morning’s fire, the team is now focused on trying to get the restaurant reopened in time for the holiday season.

Georgetown Fire investigators say they have narrowed the cause of Thursday morning's fire to...
Georgetown Fire investigators say they have narrowed the cause of Thursday morning's fire to electrical, but say it may be days before an exact cause is determined.(Live 5)

Crews with the Georgetown Fire Department and Midway Fire and Rescue responded to Tuscany Bistro on Front Street around midnight on Thursday. Georgetown Fire Chief Charlie Cribb says flames from the restaurant extended seven to ten feet in the air from the roof.

“When we first got here, we did have very heavy fire conditions,” Cribb said. “We had fire coming out of the roof of the business. We did have fire in the business. A lot of heavy smoke at the site when we drove up.”

From the outside, the business does not appear to be badly damaged, but on the inside, the parts of the kitchen are destroyed.

“It does have pretty extensive damage inside from the fire,” Cribb said. “A lot of heat damage, a lot of smoke damage.”

Cribb says they have narrowed the cause of the fire to electrical, but he says it may be a couple of days before an exact cause is determined.

Anthony Chacon and his father, Eddy, run the restaurant. He says over the last few weeks they were seeing more people wanting to work and had more servers than they had throughout the pandemic. While the extent of the fire damage is still unclear, Chacon says they are now learning the restaurant may have to be torn down.

The Chacons were not ready to speak on camera about the fire, but they say it left the kitchen unsalvageable.

“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get the building refurnished, rebuilt, and he can get his business back open sooner rather than later because obviously this time of the year where it’s Christmas parties are to be catered, that hurts him when he’s not in business,” Carter said.

He also says they’ve already heard an outpouring of support from the Georgetown community and business district.

“People have reached out to us and offered us tents and portable kitchens and stuff that we might still be able to achieve some of that,” Carter said. “But, obviously, it won’t be as uniform and easy without being able to use the kitchen and all here in this building.”

“This gentleman, Eddy Chacon, is a local person who gives back to the community and by supporting him, he’s gonna support us,” Georgetown resident Shannon Murphy said. “So, this is a critical part of let’s show him some support.”

Kevin Jayroe works at the business next door. He says he’s working to organize private, in-home dinners to help the Chacon’s and their staff still operate.

Carter says he isn’t sure yet when they’ll be able to reopen.

Copyright 2021 WCSC. All rights reserved.