Demolition of burned meat market to start this month, owners plan to rebuild

The Aynor-Conway Meat Market will rebuild in some form following an overnight fire three months ago, with demolition on the charred building expected to start later this month.

Kenny Barnhill, who owns the business off U.S. 501 near S.C. 22 with his brother, said a meat market selling his signature sausages and steaks and processing deer for hunters will reopen, but no timetable has been set.

Barnhill also is considering adding a small eatery and exploring other development options down the road to make better use of the three-acre site. He’s been meeting with engineers about options for what’s possible while obtaining demolition permits, working with his insurance company and talking about the logistics of hooking into water and sewer to replace the wells serving the 34-year-old building. He expects to have the needed permits to start demolition this month.

The meat market also might return with a new name to better reflect all the offerings being considered during the rebuild, Barnhill said, though he hadn’t yet picked one.

The meat market had operated in that spot at 4980 U.S. 501 for as long as many residents can remember, but came under the ownership of the Barnhill brothers – who were born and raised in the Aynor-Conway area – in March 2010.

“We are coming back; give us time,” Barnhill said this week. “We are going to put a meat market there. We want to do it as fast as possible.”

Barnhill has been exploring options for the meat market since fire destroyed the building about 3 a.m. Sept. 16, leaving a void for rural residents in the Conway and Aynor area who relied on the market for fresh meat. It also was a go-to spot for hunters needing deer processing. The fire wiped out the business just as the hunting season was gearing up.

Horry County Fire-Rescue couldn’t determine a cause of the fire because the damage from the blaze “was such that no additional evidence has been uncovered,” Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said. Barnhill said the fire was caused by the electrical system in the old building.

Customers, many who are on a first-name basis with the owners, have told Barnhill they have missed the business, a patronage that has given Barnhill a boost to rebuild.

“It does make me more determined. It just kind of recharges you,” he said. “You didn’t expect something like this to happen.”