BIRMINGHAM – Â One of the owners of the building that housed a small post office and restaurant destroyed by fire in March said a new post office outlet and some type of business will rise again on the site.
As for the restaurant? It won`t be returning.
“With the economy the way it is, it`s just not practical to do it,” Ken Smith said Wednesday as demolition crews cleared away what remained after the blaze destroyed the building March 4. “Besides, we`re just not restaurant people.”
Smith, along with business partner Bob Weeks, owned the building that housed Boccardi`s Pizza & Pasta and a 700-square-foot post office branch located in the middle of the village on state Route 113.
The building was destroyed in a fire that investigators believe started in an electrical junction box above the ceiling of the post office. The loss was estimated at more than $500,000.
While plans are still sketchy at this point, the pair is kicking around ideas ranging from a real estate office or barber shop to a small grocery.
“We`re open for anything at this point,” Smith said. “There`s room in the area for lots of different things.”
An insurance adjuster estimated it would cost between $300,000 and $500,000 to rebuild a restaurant at the location.
“We could get it all built, but then not be able to sell it for that in this economy,” Smith said. “It`s just too much money to start over.”
Built about 10 years ago, the restaurant contained lots of cherry wood, as well as oak and mahogany.
“I had to make a list for the insurance company of what was in there, and I came up with $160,000 in equipment alone,“ Smith said. “There was an ice machine and freezers and other things in there that weren`t that old. With all that wood and equipment, it was worth a small fortune.
“And there was a commercial, $25,000 septic system for a little restaurant with two toilets,” Smith added. “It could service half the street. I`m going to tear it out and put a new, smaller one in.”
The two partners operated the eatery for less than a year before leasing it to Kim Summers.
“She did a good job. People really liked it,” Smith said.
And while the restaurant was popular among locals, it never turned a big profit.
“One month it made more than the next,” Smith said. “We were satisfied.”
The post office was in an 80- to 100-year-old building around which the larger structure housing the restaurant was built.
Smith said the duo has to first ascertain exactly where their property lines are before they can proceed with plans to rebuild. “I`m going to bring in a surveyor so we know just what we have here,” Smith said. “We`re not exactly sure what we own or how big anything will be. There was some question about just how much land we had when we bought it five years ago. It`s uncertain if we have enough. We may have to buy some from our neighbors.”
An antique shop and private home border the former site of the post office and restaurant, Smith said.
“We`ve talked with both, and they`ve indicated they would be open to selling me a little land if we needed it,“ he said. “We have a good situation with our neighbors.”
Smith hopes to have the new building erected within eight to nine months. In the meantime, Birmingham residents must drive to the Wakeman post office to pick up their mail.
Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.