David Blanchfield went to work scrubbing down Captain Gilley's Seafood restaurant yesterday armed with a $100 raffle ticket and a dream.
By tonight, the 30-year-old Orchard Beach resident hoped to trade his mop and broom for a payroll list and the $264,823 building with a view of Stoney Creek.
But his chance to switch places with his employer could go up in smoke if the Orchard Beach Fire Department fails to sell 500 more tickets by 6 p.m.
The volunteer fire department planned to raffle off the restaurant, complete with its furniture, kitchen equipment and even the silverware, to raise money for a fire truck and floodlight.
Although the firefighters sold more than half of the 3,000 available tickets by yesterday, they still needed to hawk another 500 chances to keep the raffle afloat.
As the deadline inched closer, Bruce Smith, the assistant fire chief who arranged the unusual raffle, sounded more like a used car salesman than a volunteer firefighter.
"Sure you don't want to buy a ticket?" he asked. "It's a great chance! You could own a whole restaurant."
Smith acknowledged he was nervous, but he remained optimistic about holding the drawing scheduled for 8 p.m.
The department must sell the 500 chances to make a profit and still underwrite the Fort Smallwood Road restaurant and carry-out, valued at $264,823.
"Yeah, I'm worried," he said. "We're going to make a big push and try to get them sold by 6 p.m., or we're calling it off."
Since the department already bought the fire engine, floodlight and air masks for $450,000, Smith intends to invent another raffle if the last-minute alarm fails to draw enough eager contestants.
The 40-year-old raffling pro started his fund-raising career when he joined the fire department at age 18. He promptly raffled off two bicycles and netted the fire company about $6,000.
"We'll just have another fund-raiser, I guess," he said. "I'd like this to work, though."
He wasn't the only one. Blanchfield, who has spent the past three years working at Captain Gilley's, was counting the hours to find out if he held the lucky ticket.
And the owner -- who said he is selling the business for personal reasons and has asked to remain anonymous -- suddenly faces the possibility of replacing the "Win This Building" poster with a "For Sale" sign.