MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — Priceless artwork was recovered Friday from flames that destroyed the inside of the Collectors Cafe and Gallery in Myrtle Beach.
The smell of smoke lingering from Thursday night’s fire joined nearly 100 artwork pieces recovered by Myrtle Beach Fire Department and Fire Restoration Crews Friday afternoon outside the iconic cafe.
On Friday the smoke-engulfed floors, walls and ceilings became even more evident in the daylight. While many of the bright colored pieces were covered in a new shade of black, most of the art managed to make it out alive.
Officials say about 95% of the artwork survived the fire; however, the inside of the cafe and gallery is destroyed.
The nearly three-decade old art gallery and restaurant is known for its cultural experience. The owners and family member’s reaction is one not many could put on after watching something you’ve built for so long destroyed.
“My father used to have these empty buildings and he gave me this little spot in the back to paint,” Tommy Davis, the owner said.
26 years later, the friendship of two artists and one cultural success was something too special not to step back and appreciate. They stand in front of the damage with a vision filled with the opportunity to build back even better.
“We met each other on the beach a long time ago playing volleyball, owner Mike Smith said. “We’ve been here the whole time and never had a disagreement and you know the relationship just went on from there.”
In a “glass-half-full” mindset, Pam Davis described the fire department’s effort in saving almost all of the priceless items as “surreal.”
“I just had a mom moment,” the owner’s sister Pam Davis said. “The first thing our mom would say is the paintings! The paintings! She just really valued not just art because it’s not about things, but she valued the time and value and heart and soul of local artists and the work that goes into the art.”
The special touches of art complimenting the cultural cuisine kept customers coming back for almost three decades. Owners say it will be hard to beat what they had, but they’re up for the challenge.
“We’ll rebuild,” Smith said. “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’ve got a great place here and wonderful past, and we look forward to a big future.”
The owners are predicting four to six months to recover the cafe and gallery, but they will be back.
The fire is still under investigation. Count on News13 for continuous updates.