Brunswick pub, restaurant say flood recovery is on track

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BRUNSWICK — With a gutted kitchen, stripped floors, and a damaged ceiling, Byrnes’ Irish Pub Manager Pat Byrnes needs a four-leaf clover – or at least a good work schedule – to get the bar open for St. Patrick’s Day.

Byrnes’ suffered serious water damage after a 1 1/2-inch sprinkler pipe failed in an empty office above the pub Feb. 16. Fire crews from Brunswick, Topsham and Freeport responded just after 7 a.m. to find water cascading from the second floor ceiling and down the walls of Byrnes’ and Scarlet Begonia’s below.

Byrnes and Scarlet Begonia’s owner Doug Lavallee said thousands of gallons of water flooded their two restaurants at 16 Station Ave. before firefighters stopped the flow.

“I woke up to a call at 7:20,” Lavallee recalled Monday. He immediately drove to the restaurant.

When he pulled in, he “could hear (the water) as I came to the front door,” he said. “It looked like waterfalls in here.”

Crews from Servpro cleanup services have since stripped Lavallee’s kitchen down to the studs and replaced insulation and drywall. They had to cut and replace walls stretching from the kitchen, through the back hallway and into the dining room and bar area, where water had traveled.

The monetary cost of the damage has not yet calculated.

Next door at Brynes’, crews were at work this week in the kitchen, bathrooms and dining area.

“Two weeks into this ordeal and I think we’re looking pretty good,” Byrnes said Tuesday. “It could have been a lot worse.”

Fire Chief Ken Brillant on Monday said the second-floor sprinkler pipe failed when a section of pipe disconnected at a joint. Although it had been cold that night and morning, the break couldn’t definitively be attributed to freezing temperatures.

“We’re not sure if it actually froze and the pipe let go … or if it’s coincidence that it let go at a joint,” Brillant said. “Usually if you end up with a broken pipe, it’s usually kind of evident if something froze.”

Regardless, because the pipe was in an empty room, and owned by building manager JHR Development, Byrnes’ and Scarlet Begonia’s are “victims of circumstance,” he said.

Byrnes’ and Lavallee’s insurance coverage will pay for all physical damage to the restaurants, they said.

Lavallee said he hopes insurance will also cover the salaries of all full- and part-time employees while Scarlet Begonia’s is closed. He said he’s “hearing good things” from his insurance company, MMG Insurance.

“I’m fighting for the most compensation for my employees,” he said Monday. Lavallee added that he’d pay whatever his insurance doesn’t cover.

Pat Byrnes said he is negotiating for employee pay with his insurance company, too, and that regardless of what happens, he is committed to paying all employees “throughout this entire ordeal.”

Both managers said they are eager to be back in business.

Lavallee said he’s trying to enjoy his “unwelcome vacation,” but can’t keep his thoughts away from reopening.

“The general buzz around town is (that customers) just can’t wait for us to be open,” he said. “It’s nice to be missed.”

His repair crews are shooting for a March 15 deadline, he said.

The pressure is even more intense for Byrnes, because St. Patrick’s Day, on March 17, is by far his pub’s biggest day of the year.

“We will be open 6 a.m. on St. Patrick’s Day no matter what, if not before,” Byrnes promised Tuesday. “Get in line.”

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Byrnes’ Irish Pub and Scarlet Begonia’s at 16 Station Ave., Brunswick, have been closed since Feb. 16, when a pipe broke on the second floor of the building.

Manager Pat Byrnes expects repairs at his Brunswick pub to be complete before St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

The kitchen of Scarlet Begonia’s in Brunswick had to be stripped and reconstructed after a sprinkler pipe on the floor above it broke Feb. 16.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.