Cafe 49 could complete its recovery from a March 27 fire by May 1.
Just after 7 p.m. March 27, a fire began began outside the 4516 Charlotte Highway restaurant that reached its ceiling before anyone inside noticed. About 70 customers and employees evacuated, all safely. The responding fire inspector said it began in an outside column and burned upward to the attic.
On scene, fire inspector Lou Jarvis said the cause was undetermined. On Thursday, he confirmed a cause.
“The cause of that fire is listed now as accidental, and it’s going to be due to carelessly discarded smoking material,” Jarvis said.
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John Hicks works with Finishline Construction of Gastonia. His company does roofing and remodeling, specializing in water damage. He’s been working at Cafe 49 since shortly after the incident.
“We had to take everything that was wet out,” Hicks said. “There was a lot of water damage.”
Hicks said the building didn’t suffer much structural damage. His company will have the site ready for an insurance inspection this week and, barring setbacks, an opening May 1.
“Should be close,” Hicks said.
On the front door, a message from Jim and Mary Roupas, who have owned the restaurant for six years, expresses thanks for the well-wishes and offers of help from the Lake Wylie community since the fire. And thanks for the several fire departments that responded to the incident.
“We are in the process of repairing the damaged areas,” it reads. “We hope to reopen by the first of May.”
Hicks said he can tell the restaurant has support in Lake Wylie. When people aren’t stopping by to gauge his progress, they’re stopping by looking for a meal.
“People are still coming up to eat,” Hicks said. “Even with nobody but us in the parking lot, they’re coming up looking to eat.”