Fire heavily damages landmark building in Cedar Key

Published: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 8:52 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 8:52 p.m.

CEDAR KEY — A fire early Thursday morning heavily damaged a landmark building on Cedar Key's Dock Street.

The second floor of the building that houses The Rusty Rim and Coconuts was significantly damaged by a fire that was reported shortly before 3 a.m.

Cedar Key Fire Chief Robert Robinson said the cause of the fire was not immediately determined by investigators from the State Fire Marshal's Office, who were at the scene within hours.

"It's not a suspicious fire," Robinson said, "and it looked like it probably started in the ceiling of the second floor."

Robinson said that when the first member of the Cedar Key Volunteer Fire Department reached the building, flames could be seen working their way through the roof. Volunteers from fire departments in Rosewood, Fowler's Bluff, Chiefland and Bronson responded to the scene.

By the time the fire was extinguished, Robinson said it had done so much damage that The Rusty Rim restaurant on the second floor would be unable to reopen without extensive repairs.

A financial estimate of the damage was not immediately available.

Robinson said building officials who inspected the structure said it might be possible for the business on the first floor — the sports tavern Coconuts — to reopen fairly soon because there was relatively little damage to that portion of the building.

The two-story, wood frame building, which is believed to be at least 50 years old, was built on pilings over the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and is owned by a small group of lifelong Cedar Key residents.

Police Chief Virgil Sandlin said the building got its start as the R.B. Davis Fish House, later being converted into a restaurant that was known for many years as the Captain's Table before then standing idle for a time.

The businesses being operated in the building now are owned by Paul and Mary Rimavicus, who opened them on July 4, 2005.

The Rusty Rim featured sunset views through the floor-to-ceiling windows on the second floor. Patrons of Coconuts on the main floor watch the sunset from the open-air deck that is connected to a floating dock.

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