Waterman’s Not A Complete Rebuild After Fire

WEST OCEAN CITY — Less than a month after a devastating fire at the popular West Ocean City restaurant, the future of the Waterman’s Seafood Company looks bright, as it now appears the main structure will be salvaged and not entirely demolished as feared in the wake of the blaze.

The fire was reported around 6:45 p.m. on Oct. 5 and first arriving units from the Ocean City Fire Company reported fire extending from the roof area of the two-and-a-half story landmark restaurant on Route 50 in West Ocean City. The restaurant was open and crowded at the height of the dinner rush on a busy Friday evening, but the evacuation was orderly and no injuries were reported.

The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office conducted an investigation and determined the fire originated in a second-floor attic area and was caused by a faulty electrical circuit. In the days following the fire, the historic building appeared to be large intact with very little damage on the front of the establishment, but the scars of the blaze are can clearly be observed on the roof and rear areas upon closer inspection. At first, there was concern the entire restaurant would have to be demolished, but those fears have been allayed after a thorough inspection and renovation plan.

“It looks like the roof and the entire top floor will have to come off and be replaced, but it now appears that we won’t have to do an entire demolition and rebuild,” said Waterman’s assistant manager and spokesperson Jessica Bradshaw yesterday. “It looks like the building can be saved and from the outside it will look like the same old Waterman’s, which was important to so many people.”

While the exteriors will likely look familiar to the legion of fans of the popular West Ocean City seafood house, the interiors will be largely different, according to Bradshaw.

“The whole downstairs has been gutted and most people wouldn’t recognize it,” she said. “It’s going to be totally different inside. What happens upstairs will dictate what we do downstairs in terms of what is needed to support the new roof and top floor.”

Meanwhile, after weeks of inspecting and planning, it appears Waterman’s is back on target for a spring 2013 opening.

“Everything is moving along in a positive direction,” said Bradshaw. “The whole building will look the same and that was important to people. What happens inside remains to be seen, but we’re getting everybody on the same page and moving forward to a spring re-opening.”