The Salty Nut, a dining and drinking institution in Columbias Five Points for more than two decades before it was firebombed in January, will be reopening soon.
Owners James Bigby and Phil Hopewell, standing amid sawdust in a newly renovated bar room on Friday, said that the soft opening could come as soon at the end of the month.
Definitely by the Georgia game on Oct. 6, Bigby said.
The bar, known for its second-story deck and free peanuts, was destroyed Jan. 6 when an arsonist threw a Molotov cocktail through a window in the dining room around 4 a.m., according to fire department officials. The building, which sits on Greene Street just across the railroad tracks from the University Hill Neighborhood, was gutted.
Walter Podewil, 22, has been charged in the incident and several others by University of South Carolina police and the Columbia fire marshal with seven counts of possessing and using an incendiary device. The case is presently working its way through the court system.
Police accuse Podewil in separate incidents of throwing seven Molotov cocktails at vacant houses and garbage bins as well as off of multi-story parking garages and into streets. A Molotov cocktail is a glass bottle with an inflammatory liquid such as gasoline, with a rag stuffed in the neck as a wick.
While Bigby and Hopewell have followed the case closely, they dont believe that the attack was personal.
No idea why it happened to them, Hopewell said.
The new Salty Nut will be a lot like the old one.
The floor plan remains the same dining in the front, bar in the back but with bigger restrooms. Big barrels of salted peanuts will be open for the taking and patrons will still be urged to throw the shells on the floor.
Also, the restaurants signature deck has been expanded all the way to the front of the building, with a gated entrance on Greene Street, and covered for its entire length.
The atmosphere wont change at all, Hopewell said. Were still going to appeal to students, young professionals and professors. And weve been in touch with all of our regulars.