By the time Sawbucks Pub reopens its doors, it’ll have been at least four months since customers lifted a pint, listened to live music or simply took in the ambience at the South Surrey establishment.
But while owner Rod Egerton was initially concerned the unexpected halt to business – triggered by a kitchen blaze that first-responders described as “a small fire” – would drive customers to other locales, he has since come to believe things will be even better than they were before.
“Now, I’m not worried,” Egerton told Peace Arch News on a recent visit to the pub.
“I think we’ll come back just as busy and strong as we were, plus some. All my staff want to come back.”
Firefighters were alerted to a blaze at the 1626 152 St. business at approximately 2:45 a.m. April 25, by mall security staff at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre.
Surrey fire officials later described it as “a small fire” in the kitchen that crews extinguished within 10 minutes.
But while pub customers were initially advised that the business would be closed for “a couple weeks,” the timeline soon stretched to months as the extent of damage was realized.
“A ton of smoke and water damage,” Egerton said, noting he was told early on that it could be up to six months before he would be able to reopen.
The fire, Egerton said, was deemed accidental. But that didn’t change its impact on the structure. Damage is estimated at $1 million, he said.
Still, “it could’ve been worse,” he said.
“The whole place could’ve gone up.”
Egerton, a South Surrey resident, bought the pub about five years ago. It wasn’t his first venture into the industry.
He’s been in the business “all my life,” he said, naming establishments in North Vancouver and on Vancouver Island.
When customers walk back through Sawbucks’ doors – Egerton is expecting that will be able to happen late this month or early September – they’ll be greeted with new floors, a new ceiling, the gleam of carefully refinished mahogany and more.
“Every square inch has been resurfaced one way or another,” he said, noting he refinished the mahogany himself.
“I’ve redone the whole bar,” he said. “I’ve been coming every day just to keep myself busy and sane.”