Fire destroys new North Side restaurant 1 day before grand opening

'It's a bump in the road, but I always tell my kids never to give up,' owner said

Evelyn Holmes Image
Thursday, April 18, 2024
North Side restaurant owners speak out after fire
North Side restaurant owners are speaking out after a fire destroyed their business the day before its grand opening.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A fire swept through a North Side restaurant, just days before it was set to open.

Lunchbox is a food truck, known for its Asian dishes.

It was about to open a permanent location, at Devon and Bosworth avenues.

It's expected that the heartbroken owners of the Lunchbox restaurant will vow to rebuild, after the fire swept through the North Side eatery, just a day before they were set to have their grand opening.

The brick-and-mortar location was the result of a lot of hard work.

"It's a bump in the road, but I always tell my kids never to give up," co-owner John Nguyen said.

The owners have successfully operated an Asian food truck in Pilsen for years, and were looking to take their dream to the next level.

"We were getting ready to open. It's been a long time coming," co-owner Tanya Nguyen said.

The restaurant is now in ruins, after flames engulfed the back part of the building.

SEE MORE: CFD investigating cause of Pilsen fire after house collapses, several damaged

The owner said he was at his business Wednesday night, checking to make sure everything was in order for Thursday's inspection by the city.

"Opened the back door, and a cloud of black smoke came flying in my face," John Nguyen said.

He called the fire department.

Firefighters arrived to douse the flames, but not before the restaurant was destroyed.

"The majority of the damage went up to the ceiling. The whole place is smoked out," John Nguyen said.

The fire is quite a blow to the owners, who said they'd closed a downtown location they'd been renting on Financial Place in order to open up a location on the North Side very soon.

The space was supposed to house a casual restaurant, and showcase John Nguyen's clothing line. It was also supposed to serve as a hub for expanding their food truck business.

"I'm disappointed and sad. I know that things can be re-built. My time I put in this space, I can't buy that back," John Nguyen said.

The location is the first building the husband and wife team has owned.

"John, here, went to Loyola university, so coming back into the neighborhood was super special and exciting," Tanya Nguyen said.

The couple, who are parents to three young children, said fortunately they do have insurance and will continue to operate their food truck.

And while they say the fire is a blow to their effort to take their dream to the next level, John and Tanya Nguyen say it will happen.

"We're going to make it bigger and better than we even planned, so, we'll get there," Tanya Nguyen said.

Chicago police said no one was injured in the blaze, and the fire near a walk-in cooler was ruled accidental after an on-scene investigation.