Several San Marco Square businesses remain closed after fire

Saturday fire at Beach Diner damaged neighboring small businesses

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Several small businesses in San Marco Square remained closed Monday as they cleaned up damage from a fire that was sparked Saturday night in the popular shopping district.

It's unclear when the businesses will be able to reopen.

The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department responded around 8 p.m. Saturday to a kitchen fire at Beach Diner.

The owner of Seafood Island Bar and Grille, next door to the diner, said a faulty toaster started the fire that left the restaurant destroyed.

Glass windows were black with smoke and soot, and the front door had to be boarded up due to broken glass from the fire.

Nearby stores were also affected by smoke damage, and some were still without electricity Monday.

The owners of Seafood Island spent Sunday cleaning up. Assistant manager Ana Murphy was working when the fire started and said everyone had to evacuate when smoke started pouring in.

"It was scary because we really didn't know what was going on, like, if there's a fire, you don't know how bad it is, but everybody was calm and got out safely. That was the most important thing," Murphy said.

No one was injured in the fire, authorities said.

Seafood Island remained without power over the weekend. Damage to that restaurant was minimal, and the owners said they hope to reopen Monday.

Other neighboring shops, including The Write Touch, The Wardroom, and San Marco Books, will remain closed until further notice. 

"They're all locally owned family businesses, and unfortunately, this is a hard time for everybody, especially since the holidays are coming up. It affects everybody's finances. So it's just very important for everybody to stick together and do the best that they can," Murphy said. 

Murphy said the shops need community support as they work to move forward. 

"Just keep everybody in your prayers and your thoughts and if there's anything anybody can do to help out with the community you know feel free to stop in and talk with any of the business owners," Murphy said. "Just continue to be patient with us during this time and come back and support the businesses when we're all back up and running." 

The owner of the Write Touch said her shop was extensively damaged, and she's not sure how many items can be salvaged.

She's not sure when she'll be able to reopen, but she is taking special orders and is also urging everyone to stop by all the shops along the square once they reopen. 

Beach Diner will be closed for about a month to repair damage from the fire. The restaurant is working to place its employees with other Beach Diner locations in town until the diner is back up and running.

The restaurant reached out to its customers on Facebook, saying in part "This restaurant is our home, our livelihood and we have a deep connection to the awesome San Marco community around us. … We will be back to serve you the delicious breakfast and lunch that you all have come to know and love as soon as possible."

Hello to all of our fantastic customers! Sadly, We sustained fire and smoke damage this evening. We are so grateful...

Posted by Beach Diner San Marco on Saturday, November 2, 2019

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