WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Customers heading back to Gallagher’s Sports Bar and Grill in Surf City for the first time since Hurricane Florence, might notice a few new details to the restaurant. And one of them is hard to miss.
A replica of the famous Surf City Swing bridge now sits directly in the center of the restaurant.
Gallagher’s owner, Anthony Ricciardi, General Manager, Peter Sloan, and employees took the opportunity to remodel the place after it suffered some damage from the storm.
They had mold due to about seven inches of water that got into the building and lost part of the roof.
During a brainstorming session of what they wanted to do with the remodels, Ricciardi had the idea to pay tribute to Surf City Swing bridge as it will soon be no longer in use.
“Out of the blue Anthony said, ‘I want to put a swing bridge right down the middle,’ Sloan said. “And knowing our iconic swing bridge is leaving us soon, you know, it really hurts all of our hearts to see it go. We thought this would be a great tribute to our community to put a copy of the swing bridge here.”
Sloan said they tried to match the exact details of the real bridge as closely as possible to the one the built in the restaurant.
“We tried to get a lot of the detail into the swing bridge itself,” Sloan said. “In fact I even stopped on the bridge with color samples. I’m sure over time you’ll see rust on our wooden structure here but it’ll look more and more like the swing bridge as time goes along.”
Gallagher’s restaurant employees also chipped in with the remodels helping to repaint walls, install new counter tops and obviously, build the bridge.
“I never knew my kitchen manager was a carpenter or some of the guys in the back knew how to use table saws,” Sloan said.
They tried to keep the bridge a secret while they were doing the remodels. Sloan said they kept the blinds closed and swore the employees to secrecy so it would be a surprise for the customers when they came back.
“The reaction has been nothing but positive,” Sloan said. “It looks so much different in the evening after dusk than it does during the day. So people that came in during the day came back the following night and thought we did more work but it’s all the same it’s just how everything comes together so it’s been nothing but positive feedback from everybody.”