Lynn Pomeroy tried to be positive as he surveyed the charred remains of his family’s business. But that was a challenge after a devastating fire swept through Pomeroy’s Tavern and package store on Monday, June 27.
The Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company got the call at 5 a.m., responding with three other companies, plus another six secondary stations and five on standby, said Fire Chief Matthew Sliwa.
Opened in 1924, Pomeroy’s celebrated 90 years of business last September.
“I’m in shock night now. I spent every Christmas … in front of that fireplace,” Pomeroy said, pointing to the charred remains of the fireplace his grandfather had built. “When I was born in Salisbury, this is the first place I stopped when I came home. … It was a very magical place for me.”
His grandparents built the tavern in 1924, using cypress trees out of the Great Cypress Swamp.
Under grandfathered permits, Pomeroy’s had a rare Delaware tavern license and Selbyville pool table.
The two-story building had just undergone renovations for nearly a year, with the final permits nearly in reach. Drywall was ready for the hanging. Patrons were so close to taking advantage of the new kitchen, bathrooms and central air.
“We were way under-insured. I lost three-quarters of a million dollars today,” Pomeroy said.
The fire’s cause is still under investigation. Pomeroy said he had heard it might have begun in the kitchen area, but that had not been confirmed mid-week.
A passing motorist called the fire in, but no one knows how long it was smoldering. When police woke the family up, the fire was spreading quickly.
“The fire department was out here, en masse — an outstanding group of people,” said Pomeroy, especially grateful, he said, “considering they were all volunteers.”
Facing Route 113, the log cabin-style exterior belies the now-gutted building behind it.
“Every window had fire in it, and it was going through the roof,” Sliwa said he was told when he got the call.
“It’s an old building. It’s a lot of dry wood,” said Sliwa, who estimated that the fire came under control after about two hours, although crews were on-scene for much longer. “Everyone went home safe, and we’re very happy about that.”
“We want to thank our patrons for the last 90 years,” Pomeroy said, both looking back at the business’ history and trying to find hope for its future.
He recalled the annual holiday buffet his grandmother served to the locals. After his grandfather built the den and fireplace, people enjoyed it so much that he added a restaurant and kitchen, he said.
“We made it through the Depression … and the last economic crisis,” Pomeroy said. “We’re going to try to be back at it again.”
He said he was already brainstorming ways to salvage the wood to create tables and bar tops. But “it certainly hurt us, financially.”