Shipp's looks to reopen in three weeks

By John Mullen/Islander Contributor
Posted 8/2/17

ORANGE BEACH – Matt Shipp was a grateful man a day following an early-morning in the iconic restaurant he and wife Regina run, Shipp’s Harbour Grill at Sportsman Marina.

“We’d just …

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Shipp's looks to reopen in three weeks

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ORANGE BEACH – Matt Shipp was a grateful man a day following an early-morning in the iconic restaurant he and wife Regina run, Shipp’s Harbour Grill at Sportsman Marina.

“We’d just remodeled so we’re very thankful there was no roof damage so there’s no major external structural issues,” he said. “We’re ready to get it put back together.”

In as quickly as three weeks, he hopes. Shipp’s is one of the resort area’s favorite restaurants and there was an outpouring of support on social media sites and from friends and neighbors.

“We’ve had a lot of outreach from the community,” Shipp said. “I’ve had more texts and phone calls from friends and clients and customers concerned and offering whatever they can do. Which is great about Orange Beach. Everybody from the first responders to the community, everybody was there to help.”

One of the first notes of thanks he sent out was to the Orange Beach Fire Department. A security guard noticed smoke coming out of the back of the building at 4:20 a.m. on July 26 and called 911.

“Orange Beach Fire responded very quickly and maintained the fire in a small area of the kitchen,” Shipp said.

He said an electrical malfunction is the likely cause of the fire, but officials who investigated weren’t able to pinpoint it’s start.

“It was an electrical fire, we believe, that started in the wall,” Shipp said. “We don’t have the exact source of the fire, but that’s what we believe and what the state inspector believes. But he can’t give us a definitive answer so we’ll move on now and start the rebuilding process.”

A quick inspection and go ahead from local officials to start repairs was also a big help, Shipp said.

“The front of the house is fully intact, but the kitchen is going to have to be gutted to the studs and rebuilt,” he said. “We’re looking at maybe three weeks, hopefully, to get up and running again. We finally got approval from everybody to start construction and we’ll start demolition (July 28).”

Construction is ongoing at the site as and Shipp said it will continue daily until completed.

“I feel like we can move quickly,” he said. “I’ve got good people that are going to be working on it. Mike Thomas is going to be our contractor. He’s a local and a friend of mine and he’s going to work seven days through and until they get it done.”

Shipp said a restoration company called Belfor was going to come in and clean up smoke damage in the dining areas.

In December of 2013 there was a small electrical fire in the attic of Shipp’s that was quickly contained and the restaurant reopened the next day. Fire officials said at the time it was fortunate it happened while the restaurant was open and employees were present to quickly report the fire.

Orange Beach Battalion Chief Jeff Smith said 14 of the city firefighters worked the fire and cleared the scene at 7:26. Gulf Shores provided back up with an engine at the city limits and Escambia County Fire stood by at Station No. 1 with a ladder truck.