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.
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.