When Salty’s Waterfront and Grill and 7 Mile Marina burnt to the ground on Saturday, it affected the livelihood of dozens — the owners of the restaurant, the employees, the musicians who played there and the boat captains and mates whose vessels burned. The community is ready to rally behind them and is staging a fundraiser on Thursday, Jan. 30 from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Kirk of The Keys church in Marathon.

One hundred percent of the proceeds will be used as severance pay for those affected.

“Nineteen of my people are still looking for jobs,” said Dan Rudacille, who owned and operated Salty’s for three years with his wife Katie. “I’m trying to help them anyway I can.”

Property owner Paul Bielik supports the notion. “Give the employees and those out of work the money.”

Rudacille said the outpouring of support is almost overwhelming.

“It brings tears to my eyes. This is such a great community. I’ve been getting texts and Facebook messages nonstop. And not just from the Keys, from the East Coast and other states,” Rudacille said, adding that it’s meaningful that so many have fond memories of Salty’s. “It’s not just us who built that place, it’s the whole community, our staff, everyone who came.”

Benefit organizers hope that the plethora of bands that graced Salty’s stage will show including Misery Loves Company, The Moondogs, Adrienne, Billy Washburn, Tim Dee and Jim Hill, the Blues Brothers and many more. There will also be food and drinks for sale.

It will be months before visible reconstruction starts on Salty’s and the 7 Mile Marina. Rudacille said the marina is likely to be repaired first. The restauant and other buildings will require new construction.

“Everything has to be rebuilt, starting with the underground water and electric lines,” he said.

Although the state fire marshal’s report is incomplete, preliminary findings suggest the fire started when an ice machine shorted.


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