SURF CITY — The family that owns the LBI restaurant damaged by fire this week has created a fund to help their employees.

Fire erupted inside Scojo's in Surf City early Thursday morning but was contained to the second floor, according to to the Surf City Volunteer Fire Co. The damage, however, was severe enough that the restaurant will need to temporarily close for repairs.

"We are starting this fund to directly go to them to make up for the money they will be losing while we make renovations. We want to be very clear that anything donated will go directly to them until we get back on our feet," the restaurant's owners said on their Facebook page.

Andy Clark, whose father owns Scojo, told New Jersey 101.5 that as he watched the fire he thought not only about the restaurant's next steps for rebuilding but those of the workers who stuck with them during the tough times created by coronavirus restrictions.

"I quit my fulltime job to help them out. I was able to put myself in their shoes and kind of wonder how are we going to make them whole while we do these repairs and it kind of snowballed," Clark said. "Anything we do would obviously be a big help to them."

There's no timetable for reopening as there's many obstacles to overcome and the restaurant may simplify its menu to open sooner.

The fire was contained to an office but there is considerable other damage that keeps turning up, including water damage to the dining room and permanent damage caused by smoke to the walk-in refrigerators.

"The more we go through this, we're just kind of finding more things that we're going to have to fix other than structural things," Clark said.

Previous owners Scott Russo and Joe Wright had to do some renovations after Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Flames engulf the Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant at the ITC Crossing South shopping complex (Byram Fire Department)
Flames engulf the Longhorn Steakhouse restaurant at the ITC Crossing South shopping complex (Byram Fire Department)

Elsewhere in the state this week, a fire early Tuesday morning destroyed the Longhorn Steakhouse in the ITC Crossing South shopping complex in the Flanders section of Mount Olive. The building was a total loss and was tornn down before sunrise.

Mount OIive Mayor Rob Greenbaum told New Jersey 101.5 that Brittany Baron, a spokeswoman for Longhorn's parent company Darden, told him that employees would be offered positions at other properties.

"I do know this is a very profitable store for Longhorn and the plan is to rebuild. They're already working to build bigger within the same footprint," Greenbaum said.

The Metro View Grille restaurant in Haledon was also damaged by fires early Tuesday morning.

The cause of all three fires remains under investigation.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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