Chicago's Famed Palace Grill Sustained Serious Damage In A Fire

Palace Grill storefront in Chicago
Palace Grill storefront in Chicago - Jen Munzell/Facebook

The Palace Grill, an icon in the Chicago breakfast scene, has suffered serious damage in a restaurant fire. The fire was discovered around 10 p.m. on February 8, 2024, and the restaurant announced extensive, heartbreaking damage the next afternoon. A Facebook post including photographs of the damage confirmed the restaurant's closure until further notice and thanked the Chicago Fire Department for its swift action in saving the structure. Luckily, no injuries have been reported.

Longtime devotees of the dining venue, which opened in 1938, include firefighters and police officers, who frequently gather at the location on West Madison Street in Chicago's Near West Side. Both groups had a large presence in responding to the catastrophic fire event, which included firefighters cutting a hole in the roof to douse the flames. Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford called the damage extensive, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that early investigations pointed to a possible grease fire near the kitchen grill.

Those assumptions have since been questioned due to the restaurant's closing time of 2 p.m., after which point there should have been no heat present to ignite the late-night flames. Owner George Lemperis also reflected on 86 years in the same location in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, vowing to repair the damage and reopen. His uncles protected the restaurant during the explosive Chicago riots of 1968 after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Fire destroyed much of the West Side, but that didn't keep the restaurant's owners from feeding firefighters and police during the volatile times. Lemperis has no plans to stop now.

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History In A Humble Neighborhood Grill

Fire and firefighters at Chicago's Palace Grill
Fire and firefighters at Chicago's Palace Grill - The Palace Grill/Facebook

Chicago's Palace Grill is no swanky dining spot, and that's the way its patrons like it. Aside from the regulars, many famous names have darkened the doors and contributed to the massive collection of autographed photos lining the interior walls. That includes Oprah Winfrey, who built a studio down the street and featured the Palace on "The Oprah Winfrey Show."  Politicians have also chosen the Palace for hosting dignitaries, including then-Vice President Al Gore and the Russian Prime Minister. But the real claim to patron fame comes from just a block away.

A short walk from the Palace Grill looms the United Center, the largest arena in America and home to both the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls. The Grill has seated many a professional hockey player for breakfast, and the interior reflects it. From jerseys to memorabilia and years of photographs, the restaurant is a decades-old monument to Chicago sports. Victorious Blackhawks players have reportedly even toted Stanley Cups through the doors of the Chicago restaurant at least three times. Fortunately, the seating and communal areas suffered minimal if any damage from the fire. And owner George Lemperis told the Chicago Sun-Times that he plans to continue making history in Chicago's West Side neighborhood.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.