Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ole' Charwood

We awoke this morning to numerous emails notifying us of a severe fire at Ole' Hardwood (1315 S. Wabash). As most readers know, there has been a ton of talk about Ole' Hardwood since it just opened a couple of months ago. Anyway, here is a quick blurb from a reader about the fire:
At 4:30-ish this morning, a torrent of sirens swarming our block woke us up - again. I looked out the window and the CPD was putting out a fire at Ole' Hardwood. I did not see any flames but there was plenty of smoke and when I came in after snapping photos and video I smelled like a campfire. For the record, if this was still that dump Utopia I would have been happy but Ole Hardwood seemed promising and I'm sad to see it gone. My wife and I recently had dinner there and enjoyed ourselves despite being wary of the shady restaurant history that location boasts. That being said, let the conspiracy theories abound! Remember, this comes several months after the adjacent building (to the east on Michigan Ave) burned to the ground. Also, this comes the morning after I received my noticed of the city's "Near South Tax Increment Financing Redevelopment Plan" in the mail. Crap, if this is how the city gets things done, I hope there aren't plans to "redevelop" my building! I hope the homeless center and other offices in the building weren't damaged too badly.

It appears that the fire department also smells something fishy based on this report in the Chicago Sun-Times:
A police Bomb & Arson Section sergeant said they are investigating because there was something suspicious about the blaze, but he did not immediately know if an accelerant was found.
Regardless, this is a sad development for the troublesome restaurant spot. Although some of the older restaurants that occupied this space were spotty, Ole' Hardwood was promising. Who knows what the future holds, but in our opinion something is better than nothing. Hopefully something positive comes of this and at least no one was hurt.

(Hat Tip: MD, ND, KP, J, BM, RP, BT!)

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find that very interesting considering the one star review they got from Time-Out this week.

http://chicago.timeout.com/articles/restaurants-bars/91131/ole-hardwood-restaurant-review-south-loop

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting indeed...my family had reservations here for Christmas eve made the week prior..imagine our dismay after walking over in the snow we see a darkened restaurant with a we will be closed Christmas Eve and Christmas day sign....looks like they had plans to be permanently closed to me..almost had to have subway on xmas eve lol...

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if people realize this, but they were the same owners that had the previous two restaurants in the same spot. People may have been fooled to think The Ole Hardwood was promising because of how it looked (and putting the word 'Gastro'on it's sign), but with everything it suffered in it's first couple of weeks it was destined to fail. It's not surprising people find this suspicious.

Anonymous said...

Care to place bets on what building in that block will be set on fire next? I bet on the old court house.

Jim McMahon said...

The Chicago restaurant business is replete with examples of what used to be called the "successful fire".

Anonymous said...

They are the same owners:

Check the business license for Ole Hardwood: https://webapps.cityofchicago.org/lic/iris.jsp

Since Exposure Tapas won't have a business license as they are no longer open, check corporation filings with the Illinois SOS:

http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/

It's the same owner/registered agent.

Keep digging.

Anonymous said...

This is a truly disturbing trend. Let us not forget that people die in fires, reisdents in nearby condos and firefighters alike are at risk. If this was arson I hope the owners pay dearly, and with more then just a fine, jail time sounds like it should be on the menu!

Anonymous said...

So this place was unexpectedly shuttered on christmas eve and christmas day - after having taken reservations for both and 5 days BEFORE the arson? Shady. Shady. Shady.

I spoke out against this place and the terrible owners several times when it was converted into the third concept (all completely unrelated) in two years. This is what happens wheb people who have no business running a business try to operate one.

Considering all the adjacent lots are empty and up for auction or foreclosure - this is ripe for a thorough investigation. And, considering what happened recently to two firemen on the south side, you can bet that the CFD is going to make an example (righfully so) out of these guys.

Anonymous said...

My first thought was "they torched it." It is sad that we all think the owners are responsible. They must have been desperate. I agree with everyone, the service was pretty bad. Even the layout of the tables was not thought out.

There are a lot of other good South Loop establishments to patron: Gioco, Yolk, Bongo Room, Zapatista, Firehouse, Opera, Flo & Santos, Mai & I, South Coast...

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Opera is closing after tonight to become a "gastropubby sports bar":
http://southloopconnection.blogspot.com/2010/12/south-loop-loses-another-restaurant.html
http://chicago.metromix.com/restaurants/essay_photo_gallery/closed-in-2010/1787192/content

Anonymous said...

One: That is phenomenal news that Opera is re-conceptualizing into a gastro sports bar!!!

Second: On a more serious note. I know a lot of people on this blog appear to be very connected within the community. I hope that our concerns about the possible arson can be communicated to the alderman's office. I live in the building right next store and our entire building was filled with smoke not to mention the more important risk our brave fire fighters take every time they go into a burning building. There is not a coincidence that a restaurant would cancel reservations on such profitable nights for no reason and then a fire takes place. Plus a few hours after the fire there were insurance advertisements on the newly boarded windows. Who does that? So, I am going to forward my concerns to Fioretti about having an open communication with the community about what the fire department reports. I know that this blog likes conspiracy theories but the trib reported that morning that the arson department was looking into the suspicious fire. Let's all demand that this does not get ignored and we are kept updated and such criminal behavior.

Anonymous said...

No-one was hurt but my cat died in the smoke. My boyfriend could not get him out in time and I was out of state.

They totally torched this place. 3 failed restaurant attempts? It blows my mind that they could do this. Many people live in the building and could have died as well.

Second time in 3 months we had to evacuate our building.

If anyone knows anything please contact the authorities. I will be filing my own report. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It's disturbing how quickly people are jumping to conclusions. On the reservation issue, I would ask that anon where they made the reservation. If they did not make it directly with the restaurant, it is possible that there was just a mix-up, as it is common for restaurants to be closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas.

Anonymous said...

If we're going to all "speak out against criminal behavior," let's not stop with the owners of 'utopia/exposure/now open/old hardwood.'. Take a long look around what is happening in this neighborhood in recent months. Hoodlums and sketchy characters all over the place. The Hoods just to the south and west of the sloop are inching closer and closer every month.

Anonymous said...

"The Hoods just to the south and west of the sloop are inching closer and closer every month."

Little Italy? Chinatown?

Anonymous said...

Re: "It's disturbing how quickly people are jumping to conclusions." ... Uh, the CFD is calling it "suspicious" ... they don't do that for every fire.

and our old friend is back: "The Hoods just to the south and west of the sloop are inching closer and closer every month." I'm just surprised they didn't evoke "ENGLEWOOD!" ... seriously, what is up with that? The "sketchiest" characters I see are the suburbanoids who turn local parking lots into their own personal backyards for tailgating before Bears games. That's what I want to see an end to. Or can I go out to Schaumburg, build a fire and get drunk in their parking lots?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure this is a continuation of anon's attempt to project the problems of Englewood and Garfield Park on the South Loop.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anon. I put my ear to the street the other day (which is of course the most scientific way to analyze crime trends in your neighborhood), and I did not like what I heard! Especially the sound of the car barreling down on me...

Anonymous said...

This post is about the fire. The idea that some idiots on this blog continue to tie everything back to criticizing the south loop is maddening. You sound like a senior citizen from the suburbs with comments like shady characters around the neighborhood and paranoia about surrounding areas. You live in the City!! Enough said. On a more important note please see the link below about the fire. I know it easy to get caught up in conspiracy theories but this is really sketchy.

Case in point:
" It's the second time within weeks the fire department has been sent to the building. The restaurant recently had a gas leak that forced the building's evacuation, Bowhay said.

Source:
http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/metro/south-loop-fire-wabash-suspicious-damages-20101230

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous whose cat passed away in the fire. I am sorry about your loss. I also HOPE this was not a deliberate fire. Sloopin please keep us posted.

PLS said...

Personally I would ask the following questions of the CFD investigators and restaurant owners:

1. Why did the sprinkler system not go off (if it didn't, and it may have as there seemed to be no flame but a lot of smoke)?

2. Did the Ansel system in the kitchen go off and if so, was an alarm with the CFD triggered at the same time? How much time was there between alarms and crews on scene?

3. How much stock was there in storage and in the walk-ins? If the restaurant was planning to shut for weeks, they wouldn't have ordered supplies but instead would have run through what they did have for their last few reservations.

Anonymous said...

A little bit more on the investigation at Chicago Journal:

http://chicagojournal.com/News/02-03-2011/Police_investigating_burned-down,_short-lived_South_Loop_BBQ