Nick's has been shuttered following structure concerns
Yesterday afternoon the 288 King St. location of Nick's Original BBQ
was forced to close its doors due to significant structural problems. In a statement from owners Nick Pihakis and John Haire, the two explain that they received news that the 200-year-old building "is in a bad way and requires immediate attention and substantial repairs."
Initial problems with the building were noticed in December Haire says.
"It's an old building and you just learn, when you're in there every day for 12 years, the way things are supposed to look and the front had a different look where the walls meet each other," he says. Concerned, Haire had inspectors come check it out and the response was not good. Initially they told the owner to get all the perishables out, but on further consideration, Haire was told to remove as much equipment as possible by the end of the day today.
"That mortar just said 'I've been here for 200 and I'm tired,'" Haire says. Today, driving past, a barricade has been placed around the front of the building.
The staff have posted a farewell sign in the window
City spokesman Jack O'Toole told Post & Courier
that "after consulting extensively today with Mr. Rosen and the building's owners, City officials ordered a sidewalk and lane closure to protect public safety while a detailed reconstruction plan is formulated. We expect to have further announcements over the next 24 to 48 hours, as those plans are formalized and approved."
Haire believes repairs will take at least six months which is why he and Pihakis have decided to start looking for a new location downtown.
"It hurts deep," he says. "It's a complete buzzkill. We have loved being there on King Street and it's been this evolution of businesses coming and going and we've stood the test of time. The emotional rollercoaster has been with my staff."
In the past day Haire has met with or called all of his staff at the King Street location to sort out next steps. "We have everyone from freshmen in college all the way up to 50-year-old men working for us there ," Haire says. But just because Nick's Original BBQ has closed doesn't mean anyone is out of a job. Haire told every staff member that they will have a position at either Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q in North Charleston (4964 Centre Pointe Dr.) or the new Mt. Pleasant (1486 Stuart Engals Blvd.) restaurant opening next month.
"It's so important. We have 30 employees that work with us there. Some have been with us for 10 years, almost since we opened," Haire says getting a bit choked up. "It's so important to make sure those men and women know their paychecks will not stop."