Citizens remember ‘family restaurant’

Area citizens are remembering a “family restaurant” Monday that has served Conover residents for decades.

Drum’s Restaurant in Conover was destroyed by a fire early Saturday morning after an electrical surge protector initially sparked a blaze inside the historic city landmark, fire officials told Drum’s owner Douglas Travis.

The restaurant was built in 1972.

“It had a little, cozy, family atmosphere,” said Conover resident Joyce Rice, adding that she ate at Drum’s two or three times a week.

“Everything about the restaurant was good — it was amazing.”

But what Rice described as a staple in the Conover community was nothing but charred wood and ash on Monday.

The incident

The blaze, initially reported at 1:19 a.m. Saturday, ripped through the restaurant's interior, blowing out the building’s windows and destroying nearly everything inside.

After Conover Fire Department put out the blaze Saturday, investigators from the State Bureau Investigation Arson Team and Conover Police Department told Travis that the fire started at an electrical surge protector.

No one was inside the building at the time of the fire.

Travis, who started leasing the building from property owner Larry Drum about three years ago, said he was planning on buying the property soon.

"I was kind of shocked originally," Travis said. "After I actually saw it, I started thinking about my employees. We employ right at 20 people, and they are going to be the ones to really suffer without a job."

Before the fire, Travis said that business was picking up and staying steady.

“Things were really going good,” he said. “We were within several months of actually buying the property.”

Family feel

Customers said Drum's was one of few local restaurants to serve an early morning breakfast, noon lunch and dinner in the evening.

Long-time fans of the restaurant, like Rice, said menu prices were very reasonable for how much food was served.

“They gave you so much of everything,” Rice said. “If you didn’t know what you wanted, they would suggest something for you to get.”

In the morning, Drum's served the typical breakfast specialties, such as eggs, bacon and sausage. For lunch and dinner, Rice said the restaurant offered sandwiches, vegetables and dinner plates of meat, chicken or seafood.

Conover Police Chief Steve Brewer said a family atmosphere perfectly describes Drum's.
“My grandkids love going there,” Brewer said. “l liked everything. You go in, get waited on quickly.”

Future plans

After seeing the aftermath of the fire, Travis said he is unsure what the future holds for Drum's. Though he would like to see the restaurant open again, he said it has yet to be determined what will happen next.

Travis added that the insurance company was investigating the damage on Monday.

Fans, like Rice, can only hope the restaurant is rebuilt.

“I do hope they build another one,” Rice said. “It was really a shame to hear this happened, but I hope they rebuild.”