Dockside restaurant staff hope to raise funds after fire

When the warehouse next door to Dockside restaurant burned, the restaurant was damaged.

Some staff at a popular Lowcountry restaurant and Port Royal staple, Dockside, recovers after the restaurant warehouse was destroyed in a fire over the weekend. Smoke and water damage to the restaurant adjacent to the warehouse has the it closed temporarily. Owner Tommy Oliva says it could be months before Dockside opens, and this could mean some employees are laid-off.

“I couldn’t see anything,” Oliva remembers of the morning fire, “the smoke was just…it covered everywhere. We couldn’t even see in the parking lot.”

Only a shell of the warehouse remains. Oliva has been out working for days, salvaging what equipment from within the warehouse he can.

“It’s gone way beyond just the surface. It’s deep in the walls and stuff like that, so there’s no telling how long it’s going to take for me to get this restaurant back up and running again. It could be a while,” he says.

Port Royal Town Manager Van Willis says SLED was called in to investigate the cause of the fire, and discovered it was an electrical problem. Willis says town workers are doing all they can to ensure the restaurant and Port Royal icon becomes operational again as soon as possible.

Oliva says the closure will likely impact many. Another Dockside location on Ladys Island means employees can split shifts at that location, to help relieve Port Royal employees from the financial burden of job loss. However, it may not be a permanent arrangement.

“This is definitely going to impact a lot of other local businesses, not to mention my employees,” Oliva says. “I have over 120 employees with both restaurants, each employing about 60, and I can’t possibly keep them all employed at one restaurant for that length of time, so chances are there will probably be some lay-offs.”

Rachel Anderson is one employee who is out of a job for however long the Port Royal location is closed.

“I have a five year old, a six year old, and an 82 year old, and they do go to a classical Christian school,” Anderson says.

For Anderson, a job loss means stricter budgeting. She worries how she will pay school tuition, and afford school supplies for her children.

“I don’t know. I’m going to have to call the school and talk to the school about it. But, I don’t doubt that it’s going to work out, you know things happen for a reason. I think that we have an amazing group of resourceful people who I pray will find their way,” she says.

Anderson would like to start a fund for the many employees who work at Dockside who have families and children going back to school. If you would like to help with school supplies, you can contact the restaurant manager, Kelly Ray, at kelly_ray_sc@yahoo.com.

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