Fire heavily damages Neal and Pam’s Bar and Grill in Surfside Beach; owner hopes to reopen in a few weeks

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 8:02 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2022 at 1:23 PM EDT
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SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) – A fire broke out early Friday morning at a Surfside Beach staple.

Firefighters responded around 5 a.m. to Neal and Pam’s Bar and Grill along Ocean Boulevard for a porch fire.

Neal and Pam’s is a popular bar and restaurant that has been in Surfside Beach since 1985.

The owner, Zach Baker, said a man he hired to pressure wash the hoods in the kitchen arrived to see the porch on fire. The worker started using the water from his pressure washer to put out the flames.

“Luckily he was here because if he wasn’t, there probably wouldn’t be a Neal and Pam’s anymore,” said Baker. “He, like, pulled out his pressure washer as he was calling the fire department and started spraying out there where the fire started on the front porch.”

A fire broke out early Friday morning at a Surfside Beach staple.

A spokesperson for Surfside Beach, Rob Blomquist, said that there is significant damage to the building, with fire, smoke and water damage throughout the restaurant.

Baker said the Fire Marshal believes the fire started from an air curtain that’s over a service window on the front porch that’s used for air conditioning and to keep flies out of the restaurant.

The Fire Marshal told Baker the damage is fixable.

“I think the next step is how we can get back in business as soon as possible because we’ve got 50+ employees,” Baker said. “They all depend on this place, especially this time of year. This is when we make the vast majority of our income although we are busy year-round and hopefully we’ll be back open in the coming weeks, in the coming months, by football season at least.”

Baker added that a number of customers have already reached out to him asking if there’s anything that he can do to help. He said he’s very grateful for all the support from the community during this tough time.

“It means the world,” said Baker. “I’ve been here for 12 years and our staff during that time has grown from about 6 people in 2011 to about 56 people in the summer of 22. It’s a testament to their work. I’ve had people who have been here with more forever. Pam’s daughters Amy, Betsy, Wally, and Vinnie. A lot of people who have put a lot of hard work in over the year and that’s why this business has grown and we just look to getting them back to work so we can start to service this community once more.”

Even the previous owner Pam Stapleton, who the restaurant is named after, came by to show support.

“Gosh, it’s just ... you don’t have enough time,” Stapleton said. “Like I said before. People are just so nice. So many people through the years have been coming back again and again and it’s just a happy place.”

Baker said he’ll do everything he can to re-open the restaurant as soon as possible.

“A million customers have reached out to me this morning,” said Baker. “The entire staff has reached out to me this morning. ‘What can we do to help, anything that you need,’ so we’re very blessed in that regard and we will be back. Hopefully, like I said, by football season. So we’re ready to go. Go Cocks!”

Surfside Beach Mayor Bob Hellyer also made a statement about the fire and said he hopes the restaurant will be able to re-open soon.

“It was one of the first places my wife and I visited when we first came to Surfside Beach,” Hellyer posted on Facebook. “They have deep roots in our community. Thank you to all the first responders on the scene. We are grateful no one was hurt. As so many of you have posted on Facebook, I join you in wishing their return soon, refreshed and anew to welcome us back.”

Surfside Beach Fire Department and Horry County Fire Rescue got the fire under control while Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District provided mutual aid for backup coverage.

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