Fire destroys Greektown restaurant

February 1, 2010 4:40:46 PM PST
The owner of Costa's said he will rebuild after a four-alarm fire gutted the popular Greek Restaurant on Halsted. Firefighters spent more than six hours battling the blaze, which broke out just before midnight Monday. No one was injured- but the building at 340 S. Halsted was destroyed and will have to be torn down. That demolition is expected on Tuesday.

"We have no injuries, none of the firemen, nobody. It was a good mode of action and our main concern is life safety at this point," said Chief John Nokes, Chicago Fire Department.

As many as 200 firefighters were called to the scene. The cause of the blaze has not been determined, but the owner of Costa's Greek Dining and Bar said his manager told him the fire started in the deep fryer.

"Took the extinguisher and started to put the fire out and said he almost got it," said Chris Demos, owner.

Firefighters say at one point, flames were shooting 10 to 15 feet high.

"We watched the fire and the crews. We were horrified, my wife and I," said Tony Critchel, Greektown resident

The flames spread to another building. Three businesses - a record store, a pastry shop, and a small, family-run grocery store- were damaged.

"It's special to be in Greektown, the only grocery store. I don't know how to describe it," said Bill Siannas, Athens Grocery. "It breaks your heart after all these years to see something like that happen."

The grocery store, which has been in business for 30 years, was mostly damaged by water and smoke, so the structure should be salvageable, according to firefighters.

"I don't know what to think yet. It's a catastrophe," said James Manolakos, Pan Hellenic Pastry shop owner.

Demos owns another restaurant in the Loop and another Costa's in Oakbrook. He said he wants to rebuild the Greektown location, which has been dishing out Greek food for the last 15 years.

"We're discouraged," he said. "It's like my baby."