At about six a.m. on Dec. 27, Jim Fuller pointed his flashlight around the charred remains of Charley’s Saloon and Restaurant in Paia. The fire, which started at 1 a.m. on Christmas morning, had smoldered for an hour and a half until fire crews were able to put it out. The damage was estimated to be $350,000.
“The fire inspector estimated that temperatures reached 2,000 degrees in here,” Fuller, who has owned Charley’s since 1969, said. The pool table in the back was destroyed, along with Willie Nelson’s platinum and gold records and other memorabilia on the walls. The bar itself will need a replacement; the ceiling fans had melted, their blades drooping towards the floor.
“The cause of the fire is still under investigation,” Fire Chief David Kamalani said.
It could have been much worse. The restaurant had been closed for the holiday, and no one was injured. All of the windows were closed, so the flames never got enough oxygen to turn into a full blaze. The unscathed beams in the ceiling revealed that the fire had spared much of the structure. In fact, from the outside it’s difficult to tell there had been a fire at all.
Above the kitchen entrance, a 60-inch flat screen television had melted almost to the floor. Fortunately, a glance through the doorway into the kitchen revealed that it was still intact, right down to the package of hamburger buns that lay untouched on a counter. The bathrooms, office and front dining area also escaped much of the damage.
Fuller is optimistic about reopening within the next few weeks. “We are moving on as quickly as possible,” he said on Dec. 31. “A lot of the Charley’s employees are here. We are getting all of the junk out of here, and we are about to replace the carpet and all of the drywall. We will probably open the front dining room in two or three weeks.”
The loss of Charley’s, even on a temporary basis, is a blow to bands that want to play the North Shore.
“It was a great place that had a pretty good history,” JR Mathson of the band P.O.R.T.A.L.—who played just two days before the blaze—said. “It was a shame that it happened, because Charley’s was always a real fun place to hang out. I hope they are able to open again soon.”
Fuller expects to open doors to the full restaurant within the next two to three months. For more information on the current status of reconstruction call the Charley’s office at 579-9668. MTW