Fire erupts, stalls opening at LBK Shore restaurant

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A fire Oct. 24 melted and blew out windows and significantly damaged the interior of the Shore restaurant on Broadway Street on Longboat Key. The state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the blaze. Islander Photo: Courtesy LBKFR

Just weeks away from a long-awaited opening, a fire Oct. 24 stopped construction at the Shore restaurant on Longboat Key.

Just after 10 p.m. Oct, 24, firefighters from the West Manatee, Sarasota County and Longboat Key fire departments responded to a blaze at 800 Broadway St. in the north end village on Longboat Key.

Responders found “heavy fire showing from the entrance” to the restaurant, according to a news release Oct. 25 from Longboat Key Fire Rescue.

The state fire marshal was summoned the night of the fire, secured the scene and called for an arson dog at the site.

The news release said the dog was “normal operating procedure to assist with locating any accelerants.”

“This does not indicate the fire was arson, rather it provides further evidence to assist with a complete investigation,” the release stated.

Samples sent to the state lab may take up to four weeks for processing.

The Shore restaurant has been marred with fits and starts since its beginning.

Moore’s Stone Crab Restaurant was bulldozed at the site in May 2016, after Tom Leonard and a partner purchased the property.

Leonard owns the Shore restaurant on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota and fe put into motion plans to build a second location where Moore’s operated from 1967 to 2015.

After parting ways with his first partner in early 2017, Leonard was joined by John Mays, one of the original Bonefish Grill developers. However, during the interim, work at the site had come to a standstill and, when an influx of new partners and Leonard were ready to again begin building, delays due to permitting issues held up progress in mid-2017.

At that time, an opening date of January 2018 had been put forth.

The restaurant was estimated to be weeks away from opening before the fire.

Plans called for the new Shore restaurant to seat 185 people with an upstairs observation deck and docks and boat parking for diners who arrive by boat. The menu was to be patterned after its sister establishment on the circle.