OWNERS of the popular Beach House restaurant on Mudeford spit have vowed to reopen it as soon as possible after a fire left it badly damaged.
No-one was hurt in the blaze last Friday night as the eatery was empty at the time and staff had left.
Jeremy Carpenter, director of the Beach House, said: “The damage is pretty bad – there’s a lot of smoke damage and a lot of water damage.”
But he hoped the restaurant would soon be up and running again.
“We’ll get a move on and get it repaired ASAP so there shouldn’t be much disruption really,” he said. “A lot of people – you look at the comments and stuff – they really do have an affiliation and a love for coming down here so we need to get it open.
“My friends have been offering to help with clearing up which is great. I’ve got a good little team here at the moment. We were here at the crack of dawn and it’s just getting it all tidy, safe and secure so it doesn’t look too much of an eyesore for people.”
Fire crews from Christchurch, Springbourne, Redhill Park and Poole were called to the restaurant around 6.35pm.
They had to cut away part of the roof in order to tackle the fire, which extensively damaged the rear kitchen, restaurant and a storage area. Using breathing apparatus, firefighters battled for four hours to get the blaze under control.
Mr Carpenter praised the emergency services and said the cause of the fire was not yet known, but he had been told by a fire inspector that it started outside the restaurant and worked its way in.
Although parts of the premises were virtually gutted, some parts managed to escape major damage.
He said: “The outside of the restaurant in the conservatory area is pretty much untouched – a little bit of smoke damage which we can clean up.”
Mr Carpenter said the restaurant’s Facebook page has been flooded by customers sending their best wishes.
A tea hut has now been set up near to the Beach House to serve hot drinks and snacks.
“The message we want to get to people is that, while the damage is pretty bad, you’ll still be able to come down and get a hot chocolate or some sort of refreshment,” he added.
The Beach House is the sister restaurant to The Boathouse on Christchurch Quay which suffered a serious fire in 2013.