A Port Royal institution could be closed permanently following a July fire.
The 11th Street Dockside restaurant, which has operated in Port Royal on Battery Creek for 25 years, might not reopen after a fire that claimed the adjacent seafood market, restaurant owner Tom Oliva said Wednesday.
Oliva said he is on a month-to-month lease with the S.C. State Ports Authority, which owns the property, and that uncertainty about the port property's future led him to consider closing the location permanently. About 50 employees lost their jobs after the fire, Oliva said.
He also said he would need more than the insurance money to restore the building to operating condition. Dockside's Lady's Island location remains open.
"The decision was basically to close it down, because obviously I can't put a bunch of money into a building I can't get a lease on," Oliva said Wednesday.
Oliva left open the possibility of returning to the building once the port property is sold if a longterm lease can be signed or if he can buy the restaurant from the developers. Ports Authority spokeswoman Erin Dhand confirmed a month-to-month lease was in place while the property is for sale and said the restaurant would have the chance to negotiate a longer lease with the next owners.
The Port of Port Royal property is under contract by Palmetto Alliance Property group, which has through October to vet the property. Oliva said he has not been able to reach the developers about their plans for the property.
Members of Port Royal Town Council have urged the developers to make their plans public to give town residents a chance to weigh in.
Redevelopment could now include the buildings near the town's shrimp dock that only two months ago seemed to be thriving.
A fire the morning of July 19 gutted Port Royal's seafood market, which had recently reopened to sell fresh shrimp and fish to the public. The fire also caused damage to a nearby warehouse and Dockside, which Oliva has operated for more than 20 years.
Oliva said in July the restaurant on Battery Creek sustained "a massive amount" of water damage while firefighters fought the blaze.
Port Royal town manager Van Willis said Wednesday that town officials did everything they could to restore utilities to Dockside within 36 hours of the fire and that firefighters did all they could to keep fire and water from the building.
"One way or another -- another restaurant or Dockside will occupy that space and take advantage of the wonderful views and mystique of the nearby dock," Willis said.
Follow reporter Stephen Fastenau at twitter.com/IPBG_Stephen.
- Fire at Port Royal seafood market not arson, investigators say , July 20, 2015
- Update: Port Royal seafood market lost in Sunday morning blaze + aftermath video , July 19, 2015
- Dockside restaurant expanding to Lady's Island , Jan. 20, 2012