Unfortunate irony: Firehouse restaurant in Chicago catches fire
If you’re currently working towards any sort of online cooking school certificate and plan on one day opening a restaurant of your own, you may already have some sort of working title for the place. More often than not, these names will reflect, on some level, an aspect of the restaurant. Many proprietors choose a name which correlates with the type of cuisine they serve, while others may select one that relates to the restaurant’s given theme or ambiance. Occasionally, however, the name of a given restaurant and its fate may become ironically intertwined in the worst possible way. That was certainly the case at a popular Windy City eatery this week, as CBS Chicago has reported that the Chicago Firehouse Restaurant in the South Loop has been heavily damaged in a recent fire.
The restaurant is located in a limestone building on the south side of the city’s commercial district, directly below the loop, that actually used to serve as a firehouse. The structure was first built in the early 1900s and was an active headquarters for a branch of the Chicago Fire Department for decades before being converted into a restaurant in 1999. Even before it became an acclaimed eatery, the establishment was already somewhat entrenched in the public eye, as it was used in the filming of multiple scenes from the popular 1991 film Backdraft. Before burning badly in a multiple-alarm fire, the restaurant was known as one of the most popular steakhouses in the city.
The Chicago Tribune has reported that the fire was devastating to the structure, rendering the restaurant at least temporarily closed for business. The blaze began in mid morning on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 while roofers were at work atop the restaurant. Everyone was evacuated from the structure safely, but firefighters were unable to keep the roof from caving in, effectively totaling the building.
While it’s still somewhat unclear what will become of the restaurant that used to be one of former mayor Richard Daley’s favorites, there do seem to be plans to rebuild the structure, at the very least. The firehouse itself was designated a national landmark by Landmarks Illinois, in 2003. Bonnie McDonald, president of that organization, indicated her desire to see the structure rebuilt for historical purposes, and the high potential for that to happen, in a statement to the Chicago Tribune:
“It’s a legitimate historic resource…it’s a significant building that we believe can be rebuilt,” said McDonald.