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Pikesville restaurant Jilly’s raises close to $30,000 for employees on GoFundMe after burning down in suspected arson

After Jilly’s Bar & Grill burned down last week in a suspected arson, a GoFundMe fundraiser to give $1,000 to all of its employees has raised more than $28,000 of its $35,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon.

The restaurant’s fundraiser would allow its 30 employees who lost their jobs due to the suspected arson to help cope with the loss of income for a few weeks, it said. Another fundraiser the restaurant shared on Facebook has sold 120 T-shirts to benefit the restaurant as of Thursday afternoon, beating its goal of 50 shirts sold.

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Many of the employees were with the restaurant for more than a decade, according to the GoFundMe fundraiser.The restaurant’s future is uncertain, it said.

“Every single employee fought so hard to get through the pandemic, and in a senseless act of another, has had everything taken from them,” the fundraiser said. “We are not just coworkers, we are family. Our customers have been some of the best of the best. Many have turned from customers, to friends, and most have also turned into family.”

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David Michael McDermott, 40, who officials have said lives very close to the Reisterstown Road restaurant, was charged with second-degree arson after a fire burned down the restaurant early in the morning of Oct. 28. He was denied bail Friday pending a mental competency evaluation. He waived his right to an attorney at an initial appearance Oct. 29, online court records show.

A district judge also barred him from Jilly’s property and St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church on Church Lane in Pikesville, which a prosecutor said he had broken into and stolen wine from. If convicted, McDermott faces up to 20 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine, according to charging documents.

No injuries were reported in the fire, which caused an estimated $2 million in damage, according to charging documents.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office, among others, found in a preliminary investigation that a person had lit several outdoor heaters on fire and tipped them against a restaurant wall, causing the paneling to catch fire.It quickly spread along the decades-old building and was spreading to other buildings next to the restaurant.

McDermott had been given a no-trespass order previously and “had made statements that he would be back,” police said. The restaurant’s owner had told police McDermott had gotten confrontational after he had a problem with McDermott trespassing and loitering on his property the day before, according to charging documents. He said he believed McDermott set the fire in retaliation.

McDermott told detectives “in detail” how he turned the heaters on and turned on the igniter, according to charging documents. He claimed to have put the fire out with chlorine, according to the documents.

In a Facebook post Friday night, the restaurant said some customers arranged a small “Happy Hour” get-together at the picnic tables left outside the restaurant. Customers said they loved the restaurant for its food and hospitality.

“The part that hurts the most is that on those horrible days you could always go there and be embraced,” said Denise Williams, a longtime customer and nearby Baltimore County resident. “Pikesville took a huge L.”

The restaurant wrote in a Tuesday Facebook post that it would appreciate any amount donated.

“It’s hard to look at 1012 Reisterstown Road, in the state that it is in... but having all of you as a support system, is wonderful,” the restaurant wrote in a Facebook post Friday night. “Thank you for being there for us. And please continue to keep our Jilly’s family in your thoughts.”

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Taylor DeVille contributed to this article.

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