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Owners of Conway riverfront restaurant plan to rebuild after fire

Blaze burns Bonfire Taqueria in Conway

Crews were on scene working on repairs hours after a blaze burned a portion of Bonfire Taqueria in downtown Conway.
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Crews were on scene working on repairs hours after a blaze burned a portion of Bonfire Taqueria in downtown Conway.

Bonfire Taqueria in downtown Conway is closed after a portion of the building was blackened by an early morning fire caused by a cooking apparatus.

Conway firefighters responded to find the newly-opened, riverside restaurant on Main Street on fire about 7:20 a.m. Saturday, according to Jeremy Carter, assistant fire chief with Conway Fire Department.

Horry County Fire Rescue offered mutual aid, and the fire was extinguished. One employee was at the restaurant when the blaze broke out and called 911, and no one was injured in the fire, Carter said.

Owners Darren and Cyndi Smith, who also own Rivertown Bistro on Third Avenue in downtown Conway, reassured the community they would rebuild, and are just as concerned for the 50 employees as they are their damaged restaurant that’s nestled along the Waccamaw River.

“We would like to thank the local community for the prayers and goodwill they have shown us during this setback. We would like to assure everyone we will rebuild and continue to support the community that for so long has supported our Bonfire and Bistro family,” the owners said in an issued statement Saturday afternoon.

We would like to thank the local community for the prayers and goodwill they have shown us during this setback. We would like to assure everyone we will rebuild and continue to support the community that for so long has supported our Bonfire and Bistro family.

Darren and Cyndi Smith, owners of the Bonfire Taqueria that burned Saturday

The same building suffered heavy fire damage on April 22, 2009 when it was called the Sidewheeler, but was later refurbished. The building was constructed in 1890 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Saturday afternoon, crews with A & I Fire and Water Restoration were at the restaurant assessing the damage. The kitchen area was severely burned, and other areas had heat and smoke damage.

Managers lingered around the charred building Saturday to help and answer any questions from employees. They also addressed concerned customers who dropped by to ask questions and offer support.

“Though we are shocked and devastated, the community is already behind us. We will help our employees find their place,” Lauren Gore, the restaurant manager, said in a news release.

The riverfront eatery just opened a few months ago, offering a feast of fusion with southern favorites, like barbecue and Mexican cuisine, along with featuring live music on the weekends.

The Smiths are no strangers to rising from the ashes as their Rivertown Bistro restaurant also suffered fire damage during a Jan. 31, 2008 blaze, but reopened.

“We are down but not out,” Darren Smith said in the release. “If not for Conway Fire, the damage would not have been limited to the kitchen. We would have been looking at rubble.”

Elizabeth Townsend: 843-626-0217, @TSN_etownsend

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