TARPON SPRINGS — Flames that gutted the 701 Tap House Bar and Grill on North Pinellas Avenue last week have long been extinguished, but their impact on the establishment’s ownership and employees continues to be felt.
Last Tuesday’s three-alarm fire totally destroyed the bar, Tap House co-owner Sean Field said, abruptly terminating the employment of its 30 workers.
“It’s the restaurant industry so it’s tough,” he said. “All these folks are currently without jobs, so we’re doing everything we can to try and have some sort of income coming to them through benefits and other things that local businesses are putting together to help raise money for the families.”
Field said a number of nearby businesses have been reaching out and expressing interest in holding events like happy hours or car washes that would raise money and help defray the financial impact of the fire on the employees.
Also in the works is a larger benefit being organized by Field and Tap House employees that could attract from 300 to 500 people.
“The details are still being worked out but we’re hoping to have a benefit one of these upcoming weekends,” Field said, including applying to the city of Tarpon Springs for permits to holdan event of that size with live music and alcohol sales.
Updates on the date, time and whereabouts of the planned benefit will be posted on the Tap House’s Facebook page, Field said.
As for the future of the Tap House, which was less than two years old and featured craft beers and a casual, gourmet American menu, Field said fans of the restaurant can expect its return – just not at 701 N. Pinellas Ave.
“If not, I think our customers are going to be pretty upset with us,” he said. “Unfortunately we’re just probably not going to be on that site.”
Fields, who took over the Tap House with his brother, Chris, little more than three months ago, said potential sites for the re-opening are already being scouted.
“We’re really trying to stay right there, very close to where we are now,” Fields said. “We’d love to stay in that area and there are a couple options we think may be available there if we want to take them on. We’re not afraid to go south of Tarpon Avenue if we have to but we’d prefer to stay on the north side as close to the Sponge Docks as we can.”
While a future location and timetable for potential re-opening are both unknowns, Fields
There is no timetable for when a location will be selected or when it could potentially re-open. Fields said, however he is confident that both will happen.
“It may not be in two weeks,” he said. “It may be in two months or four months or whenever, but we’re putting our plans together and we’ll definitely be back.”