A second chance after fire, no secret for Speakeasy

By Eric

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Fifty people were left jobless after last week's fire at 213 East Bay Street in downtown Charleston. But those flames have also lit a spark of outreach that's growing stronger.

Because of second chances, some are back to work and they have their neighbors thank.

Ken Emery, the co-owner at Burwell's on Market Street, still has a hard time talking about the fire.

"It looked like a ghost town. Your heart sinks, especially since I knew those people," said Emery.

The loss of the four businesses goes beyond just a damaged building.

"It's almost like these are our homes and we used to go to that home nightly, all of a sudden that home is gone," he said.

Also gone, the spot known as the Speakeasy. Once marked by only a red light above the door at 213 East Bay, the light is off now, but not for long thanks to Emery. This past weekend, he brought the two men that made Speakeasy a local favorite over to Burwell's.

"They're all in a tough spot," Emery said. "I don't think they want to feel like it's charity, they just want to do what they do, so it's hard."

Emery had an unused and unknown -- to the public. at least -- bar on the upstairs patio of Burwell's. It was unfinished, but they scrambled to get it ready for the Speakeasy guys before bridge run weekend.

"I said, 'If I can get this done, would you be willing to man the bar?' and they said yes," Emery said.

Emery now points people to his somewhat secret saloon. At the open-air escape within Burwell's, Speakeasy specialty drinks are being made again.

It's just what Emery had in mind.

"It was to keep two extraordinarily talented people down here on the market," he said. "It was also a good mix, everything we do here is from scratch, very detail-oriented and that's exactly what these two guys are."

So how do you find it? There's a new red light outside of Burwell's now, and it's turned on. The word's out and that's a good thing.

Fire investigators say it could still be several days before they learn what started the fire at 213 East Bay Street.