Photo by Shawn Nowlin
A fire broke out at Mac & Bob’s on August 31, around 9:25 a.m. Within minutes, local firefighters were on the scene to contain the flames.
In the 40 years that Mac & Bob’s has served the Salem community, co-owner Bob Rotanz admits he has experienced a lifetime of memories. One day he will never forget is Monday, August 31.
Around 9:20 that morning, a restaurant employee called 911 after smelling smoke and discovering a fire. Within minutes of receiving the call, Salem Fire & EMS Department personnel were on the scene. When they arrived, they found smoke along the line of the roof and throughout the building. All employees were safely evacuated without injury.
Approximately an hour was needed for the firefighters to put out the blaze. According to the Salem Fire Marshall’s Office, the fire was caused by an electrical malfunction above the drop ceiling inside the front entrance. Preliminary damage is estimated to be around $10,000. When the fire broke out, Mac & Bob’s was closed to the public.
Witnesses on the scene say they were shocked to see so much smoke coming from the building. Salem native Ramon Henson said he was jogging downtown when he noticed a heavy cloud above the restaurant. “I was doing my normal Monday route when I noticed significant smoke coming from the building. You could have seen it from a mile away. My first thought was hopefully no one was injured. Seeing all the firefighters respond in such a swift manner put my concerns at ease,” he said.
A welcoming place where everyone knows your name is how many in the Salem community, like Henson, describe Mac & Bob’s. It is much more than just a place to get a quality meal for a reasonable price, he noted.
Rotanz has already reached out to Mac & Bob’s insurance carrier and is hopeful to cover lost wages for employees during the closure by drawing on its policy. “After all of these years of paying pretty substantial premiums, hopefully when we are in need during a time like this, we can use that money to help our employees and keep our managers from going on unemployment,” Rotanz said.
He added, “The community has been unbelievable. The amount of text messages that I’ve received has been heartwarming. This thing happened before 10 a.m. By noon, I had a giant candy bar, homemade chicken soup and some bourbon on my front door with a letter telling me to hang in there.”
Mac & Bob’s is expected to reopen on September 16 at half capacity.