MACHIAS, Maine — The owners of Helen’s Restaurant, the landmark business that was destroyed by fire earlier this month, are seeking a permit to construct a new building on the same site next to U.S. 1.
David and Julie Barker applied for a building permit July 17. The Machias Planning Board was scheduled to take up the request at a special meeting Monday night.
In the permit application, Barker estimated the new building would cost $1 million or more to construct. He also submitted a preliminary sketch depicting the layout of the building interior, which shows a slightly different configuration than the previous structure. He could not be reached for comment Monday about his plans.
Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office were unable to pinpoint the cause of the early morning fire on July 11.
Firefighters from several nearby communities were summoned to the blaze but were unable to save the structure. Guests at the nearby Machias Motor Inn were evacuated but that building was saved.
The restaurant employed about 50 workers at the time of the fire. An online fundraising campaign to benefit workers, which had a goal of $20,000, has collected more than $30,000. A number of benefit activities also are being planned in the community to raise more funds for the restaurant employees.
State officials have waived a requirement that affected employees look for jobs while they collect unemployment benefits, a move that will allow them to be available to return to work when the restaurant reopens.
Barker and his wife, Julie, residents of Machias, estimated earlier that it would take six months to rebuild the restaurant.