ANNA MARIA -- The Rod & Reel Pier in Anna Maria might be temporarily closed due to a Sept. 30 kitchen fire, but its patrons are serving the restaurant by purchasing a funny shirt.
A total of 150 "fiery" cotton T-shirts at $20 each have been sold this week to raise money for All Island Denominations, the organization that has committed to helping the 30 out-of-work employees of the restaurant make their rents and pay their utilities, said Joan Carter, president of Anna Maria's J & J Graphics ScreenPrinting, creator of the shirt.
"We've raised $3,000 so far for All Island Denominations," Carter said Friday. "One guy bought four shirts and gave $100."
The printing on the shirt takes the restaurant's menu and plays off the fire, coming up with new items like extra hot chicken wings. roasted oysters, smokin' hot dogs, charred, not blackened, grouper and seared crab cake sandwich.
The bright blue shirt also has the Rod & Reel logo and the phrase: "Established in 1947. Got smoked 2013."
"The demand has been strong all week, which I think tells you that the community has come together to help out," Carter said.
J & J Graphics ScreenPrinting, 9701 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, still has some shirts
available 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
But the shirts also will be available 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Three Island Monkeys, a gift and souvenir shop located close to J & J Graphics at 9801 Gulf Drive, Anna Maria, said owner Kandi Kerekes.
"Those are the nicest people at the Pier and they are without jobs," Kerekes said. "I think the T-shirt is a great idea."
The shirts require $20 in cash or check made out to All Island Denominations, Carter said.
Dave Cochran, manager of the Rod & Reel Pier, said Friday that permits for tearing the interior of the restaurant apart have been acquired, but it's still too soon to announce a reopening date.
"I'm not going to guess," Cochran said of a reopening date. "It has to run its process. The pier is also closed because it's too big of a liability to have the pier open now."
The West Manatee Fire & Rescue District Fire Prevention Bureau determined the cause of the fire as "radiant heat over time," which inflicted an estimated $100,000 in damage.
Fire inspectors determined the fire was accidental."We are getting our equipment out of the way so contractors can come in starting Monday and give us bids on the job," Cochran said.
Any other organization that wishes to sell the shirts can call J & J Graphics at 941-778-6541.