NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WDRB) -- It was a longtime popular New Albany restaurant and tavern before it was gutted by fire.

Now, the building will soon be gone. The demolition squad moved in on Wednesday to tear down what is left of the old Sam's Food and Spirits in New Albany.

The business was destroyed by a slow-burning fire in early December.

"Yes, it is demo day today," said owner Sam Anderson, "we are taking the building down to see if we can salvage some things."

Anderson says other than a few chairs there is not much to save.

He told WDRB News that the response from the community has helped him deal with the hardship of recovering from a fire, especially the money raised to help some of his employees who were out work for awhile because of the fire.

"That was probably the biggest uplifting thing of the whole event," said Anderson. "The outreach from the public and our customers and friends and the money raised for them made their Christmas happen."

Anderson says there is a possibility he could eventually rebuild here, but not right away.

"There is a chance," he said. "It depends on how the economics work on the project, but right now I've got to get folks back to work and me back to work selling fish sandwiches."

So for now he plans to move the Sam's restaurant operation by April to the Montrose Events center in Clarksville which he also owns.

And a second restaurant which Anderson owns in Floyds Knobs remains open.

Despite his other businesses the fire at Sam's has taken a financial toll. He says he doesn't know the exact amount but said it was "quite a bit."

Anderson says he knows one thing for sure: Any plans to retire will be a lot later than he originally planned.

"That's going to push that back a little further, and I'll have to keep working a little while longer," he added.

Meanwhile the New Albany Fire Department tells WDRB that the cause of the fire has not been determined.

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