BRUNSWICK, Maine — Almost one month to the day before the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration that each year draws hundreds to Byrnes Irish Pub, thousands of gallons of water flooded the eatery and neighbor Scarlet Begonias Monday morning, leaving both establishments closed until further notice.
Firefighters arrived shortly after 7 a.m. to find a water pipe in a vacant section of the building’s second floor had “let loose” and water had poured into the kitchen areas of the two restaurants, according to Deputy Chief Donald Koslosky of the Brunswick Fire Department.
With the temperature barely above zero, more than a dozen firefighters used large “squeegees” to force the water from the upper floor, down the stairs and out the door of the building at 16 Station Ave., which is owned by JHR Development of Maine.
Joe Byrnes, who owns the Brunswick pub as well as the original Byrnes Irish Pub in Bath, said 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of water flooded his kitchen, bathrooms and office, with some water reaching the dining room.
A cleanup company removed the remaining water and began drying the building, but Doug Lavallee, who owns the adjacent Scarlet Begonias with his wife, Colleen Lavallee, said Tuesday afternoon that moisture was still seeping through from upstairs and insurance agents had just begun assessing the “severe damage” at his restaurant.
Both Byrnes and Doug Lavallee said they plan to pay their 15-17 employees throughout the closures — which Lavallee was told will likely last three to four weeks, although if the front of the establishments are more damaged, it could take longer to reopen.
But Byrnes said Tuesday that 30 days is all he has.
“We will be open by St. Paddy’s Day, come hell or high water,” he said. “Even if we have to run a tent across the street.”
The annual celebration begins with breakfast at 6 a.m., followed later in the day by a performance of the Maine Pipe and Drum Corps.
Marc Arnold, a drummer with the Maine Pipe and Drum Corps, said Tuesday that the corps will perform at both Byrnes pubs on St. Patrick’s Day this year — and will play at a reopening party if Joe Byrnes calls them.
“It’s really awful to have this happen to the pub, but better now, a few days before Feb. 17, than a few days before March 17,” Arnold said.
Byrnes said Tuesday that the pub’s long, copper-topped bar was not damaged in the deluge, and it should be in fine shape when he climbs onto it, as is tradition, to dance to “The Rakes of Mallow” on March 17.