MURRELLS INLET, SC (WMBF) - Rebuilding is ahead of schedule at Dead Dog Saloon after it was destroyed by fire, according to the popular restaurant and pub's owners.
Co-owner Peter Haentjens says he expects to open the Marshwalk landmark by the last week of June. He attributes the updated estimate to fire fighters who saved much of the foundation. Haentjens says that gave workers a head start on construction.
Crews are putting the finishing touches on the foundation and trusses that are the base of the floor. The early morning fire on February 22 destroyed everything else.
Haentjens estimates the rebuilding will cost more than $1 million, which he hopes insurance will cover. He won't know for sure until Wednesday.
Restaurant staff are hopeful the fire won't impact too much of the Murrells Inlet staple's peak season, which traditionally starts St. Patrick's Day weekend.
"From there on its full steam ahead, but we will get the majority of the summer. It could still be a good year for us if we open by July 1," said Haentjens.
As Marshwalk visitors marvel at the destruction along with the progress, many are eager for the restaurant to open.
"Well I like the food. I like the drinks. They're pretty good. Everything's pretty good. The service is good," said Glen Bailey, a frequent visitor.
Fire officials have ruled out arson, but the owner says they still don't know an exact cause of the fire. Investigators think it sparked by an old oak tree surrounded by a wood deck. For now that charred tree remains as a reminder of the fire.
Haentjens says he's grateful for the outpouring of community support in addition to the camaraderie shown by area businesses, some of which hired his employees on a temporary basis.