SOUTH PORTLAND – It looks like Red’s Dairy Freeze may be a step closer to reopening.

The popular ice cream shop on Cottage Road has been closed since it suffered heavy damage in a fire more than two months ago. The owner, Chris Bolling, has obtained a permit from the city to demolish the building down to the first two layers of concrete block.

Code Enforcement Officer Patricia Doucette said Bolling plans to rebuild on the existing foundation, but has not submitted any paperwork to do so.

Bolling could not be reached for comment.

The May 16 electrical fire started in a combination exhaust fan and light in a bathroom, according to the Fire Department.

Since then the walk-up windows have been boarded. The shop left a message and a promise — “We’ll be back!” — on the covered-up windows for customers suffering withdrawal from their favorite soft-serve ice cream.

Joel Fitzpatrick, a developer and a friend of Bolling, is helping him through the rebuilding process. Fitzpatrick said tearing down the existing structure and then rebuilding may be the most cost-efficient path, but that Bolling hasn’t determined whether that will be the plan.

“I’m helping him get some things together,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know he’s planning to rebuild.”

It’s not clear whether Red’s will reopen in time to capture summer business. Fitzpatrick said Bolling is still talking to his insurer.

George Barstow, the demolition contractor, said Friday that he had expected to tear down the building more than a week ago. But those plans have been put on hold, he said.

The city issued the demolition permit July 13. It remains valid for six months.

The ice cream shop has been a fixture at the foot of Meetinghouse Hill since Bolling’s father — Leonard “Red” Bolling — started it in 1952. The elder Bolling was a milkman who jumped on the opportunity to run a Tastee Freez franchise that year.

The shop has been operating as Red’s Dairy Freeze since 1965.

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]