Little Pigs Barbecue won’t give up.
The popular restaurant, operating in Columbia since 1963, was destroyed by fire for the second time in 17 years Sunday after a small fire in a storage shed spread to the kitchen and attic of the building.
But owner Champ McGee said he would rebuild and reopen, just like he did after a fire in 1991.
“It’s the nature of the restaurant business,” he said. “We’ll be back.”
A tow-truck driver on Percival Road spotted the smoke and called 911 at 3:53 a.m. Firefighters arrived at 4:03 a.m. and had the fire under control at 4:32 a.m., said Aubrey Jenkins, deputy chief for the Columbia Fire Department.
Jenkins estimated the damage at $250,000.
McGee said he will continue to operate his catering business out of his other location on Broad River Road, noting that he has parties to cover every day this week.
His 12 employees will be out of work, but McGee said he has insurance to cover their salaries.
According to its Web site, Little Pigs Barbecue opened in February 1962 on Rosewood Drive. In 1965, the name changed to Little Bar-B-Q Hut. The business moved to Alpine Road in 1978. A year later, it was back operating as Little Pigs Barbecue.
The first fire happened after a homeless person crawled under the store and started a fire to keep warm. The fire soon got out of control and burned the restaurant down.
It was four months before McGee could reopen, but this time he said he can probably open the store again in two months.
Sunday, as news of the fire was reported in local media outlets, McGee said he already fielded two calls from local contractors wanting to bid on the project — a sign McGee attributed to the tough economy.
“There’s a lot of hungry contractors out there,” he said.
Reach Beam at (803) 771-8405.