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Thirsty Camel scheduled for demolition, community reminisces on good times

"We have to stay positive. The only way to be."

NORFOLK, Va. — The Thirsty Camel served the Ocean View community in Norfolk for more than five decades. The restaurant went up in flames early Thursday morning.

The building was closed off after the fire, but its parking lot did not stay empty.

All day long, people came on foot, or by car or bike to reminisce on the good times now boarded up inside.

Longtime customer Emile Husson snapped photos to commemorate the community staple.

“So many people have lifetimes in this place, and they are going to miss it,” Husson said. “So, I just wanted to come down and see them paying their last respects.”

RELATED: Crews battle two-alarm fire at Thirsty Camel restaurant in Norfolk

Many shared laughs and stories as they dropped by.

“Memories of a time not too long ago when you could go out and socialize,” said former customer Andrew Kirschbaum.

They even captured their own pictures of the camel they know and love, which serves as the bar's mascot.

“It’s a bad time for businesses to be struggling and then have a fire on top of it,” Kirschbaum said. “So, I hope they can recover.”

The restaurant’s future is uncertain. But part-owner Judy Boone said if they can do something with it, they will.

“We have to stay positive,” Boone said in a statement. “The only way to be. I am thankful for so many friends who have sent messages and express their love for the good times and food at the Thirsty Camel.”

A Norfolk Fire and Rescue spokesperson said the two-alarm fire left the structure extremely unstable, which makes the investigation difficult. They said the cause is still unknown.

“Maybe this is my way of saying goodbye too,” Husson said while holding his camera. “I don’t know if it is going to be torn down, or rebuilt, but one way or another it is not going to be the same.”

Goodbyes are tough, but Husson said the camel statue out front can’t go.

“That camel had better be preserved because that is part of this area,” Husson said. “That is this corner.”

The Thirsty Camel is scheduled for demolition soon. Norfolk Fire and Rescue’s spokesperson said that could happen in the next 24 hours.

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