When the alarm went off at 5 a.m. Sept. 25, Tara Tracy and Brian Shepler thought someone was breaking into their restaurant downstairs.
Shepler grabbed his handgun and headed to the first floor.
That's when he saw the flames on the back porch.
"He yelled at me to just get out, leave everything," Tracy said.
She ran outside in just boxers and a T-shirt, leaving her eye glasses and everything the couple owned inside.
Their apartment and restaurant, Limpin' Janes Old South Eatery, was in one of the seven waterfront buildings in Georgetown's historic district that were destroyed in the fire. The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division announced Thursday that the fire was not arson, but the cause remains unknown.
For a few weeks after the fire, Tracy and Shepler were unsure what to do.
"We had to do something," Shepler said. "We were just sitting around staring at each other."
They considered leaving the restaurant business, but Tracy, who went to culinary school, and Shepler, a bartender since college, couldn't imagine doing anything else.
"Once you get into this business, it becomes your lifestyle," Tracy said.
They had visited Beaufort around Labor Day for a few days. They returned to see what kind of business space was available. Simply Southern and Simply Southern Too had just consolidated, leaving 705 Bay St. vacant.
The couple have been working for the last few weeks to obtain the space, and they have a new home on Lady's Island. They were able to use some equipment restaurant landlord 303 Associates had in storage from previous tenants.
Tracy said they need about two months to prepare the restaurant, and they have neither a name nor an opening date yet.
But they have decided it will be a deli-style eatery during the day, with sliced meats, custom sandwiches, retail wine, gourmet cheeses and other items. At night, it will be a wine bar, with 20 wines and six beers on tap. Tracy said the menu will change daily.
In other changes about town:
- City of Beaufort planning staff is reviewing a conceptual plan to build a Starbucks at 2001 Lovejoy St., in front of Quality Inn.
- Federally funded paving coordinated by the S.C. Department of Transportation is expected to resume after Thanksgiving, according to assistant public works director Lamar Taylor. Contractors paved Bay and Lafayette streets in September and had been expected to return to do other streets in October.
- Sisters of the New South, a restaurant with three locations in Savannah and Pooler, is moving into the 2121 Boundary St., Beaufort Town Center, space that was most recently occupied by The Irish Rose Pub and Bistro. Sisters serves Southern food for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Information: thesistersofthenewsouth.com
Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.