Sandollar reopens 8 months after fire

Restaurant salvages tables, chairs, decor to keep original feel

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Eight months after fire damaged the Sandollar Restaurant on the Northside, it has been renovated and reopened.

The restaurant was able to save all the tables, chairs and decorations to keep its original feel.

Flames ripped through the well-known seafood restaurant in March. Dozens of firefighters worked to put the fire out. What the fire left behind wasn't pretty, but owner Jay McKenzie gave his customers this promise:

"We'll rebuild the kitchen, fix the attic and we'll be back open soon," he said.

After months of rebuilding and a few hundred thousand dollars in renovations, "We're back, just like I told you eight months ago," McKenzie said. "It'd take us a while to get open, but we're back and we're better than ever."

McKenzie said while he was rebuilding, other local restaurants lent a helping hand. They gave his workers temporary jobs at their places, and once the Sandollar's doors finally reopened, it was business as usual and longtime customers came right back.

"As we pass this way going to Jacksonville often, we watched the progress and we were so glad to see them open back up," customer Cheryl Broome said.

"It seems the same, food's still good, everything's still good to me," customer Ben Ayers said.

Despite the setbacks, the restaurant's staff say they're here to stay.

"It's been here since 1988 and it's going to be here a long time past today," McKenzie said.

The Sandollar is open every day from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. It has a Thanksgiving Day buffet planned for Thursday.

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