Local News

May 7, 2014

Restaurant was two weeks away from opening (Updated 4:50 p.m.)

Celia McCollum had hoped to open Bay’s Kitchen with her family in about two weeks.

Then, shortly after Dalton Utilities turned the power on Wednesday morning, the building at 629 S. Hamilton St. began going up in flames.

The structure wasn’t a total loss, but there’s enough damage that McCollum said her family’s dream business will have to delay its opening to an undetermined date. It’s going to be an all-you-can-eat-style buffet.

According to Dalton Fire Department spokesman Bruce Frazier, a call came in shortly before 9:30 a.m. that the building was on fire. Responders had the blaze under control by 10 a.m., and there were no injuries, but Frazier said there was heavy damage to the building.

McCollum believes the roof will need to be replaced and the building will need a good cleaning. Dalton Fire Department Deputy Chief Gary Baggett estimated the fire left about $60,000 worth of damage.

Baggett said the fire started after the power was turned on for the building and, unbeknownst to anyone, one of the heating elements at a serving table had been left on. Baggett said it’s unclear how the element got turned on, but it’s possible a previous tenant left it that way.

“There were combustibles on top of that (element), so when it finally heated up enough to ignite, the combustibles then ignited the fire,” he said. “We had a pretty substantial fire there.”

About 30 minutes after the power was turned on, someone called 911 to report black smoke coming from the building, McCollum said. She said that while the fire is a setback, the owners still have plans to open, they just aren’t sure when.

“We’ve always wanted to (open a restaurant),” she said.

Baggett said the building owner lives in the Atlanta area and leases the structure and equipment. The building has been home to several restaurants over the years, including Memphis Grill and El Rancho.

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