ST. CHARLES – A fire early Wednesday morning left The Office Dining & Spirits uninhabitable for the time being, but owner Sean Williams said he hopes to reopen in a couple of weeks.
“We should be ready to go in a couple of weeks,” Williams said. “The kitchen is completely destroyed, but the rest is only smoke and water damage.”
St. Charles firefighters continue to investigate the cause of the fire, which caused an estimated $125,000 in damage to the structure and contents of The Office, which is at 201 E. Main St. in downtown St. Charles.
St. Charles Fire Chief Joe Schelstreet said that the fire is not considered suspicious.
On Wednesday afternoon, employees from Assurance Cleaning and Restoration were doing cleanup work inside the restaurant.
Williams has owned the building for 19 years. The Office has been open since January 2011. Before that, McNally’s Traditional Irish Pub had occupied the space for 15 years, Williams said. The structure was built in the 1840s and was the location of St. Charles Office Supply for many years.
The restaurant employs 61 people.
“We’re going to make sure all 61 of our employees are taken care of in the next couple of weeks when we are closed,” Williams said.
The fire started at 6:01 a.m. The Office was closed.
Williams said he was called about the fire at 6:03 a.m. from an individual who was set to clean the building.
“I could see a big cloud of smoke as I was driving into the downtown,” Williams said.
Upon arrival, firefighters found smoke showing from the roof of the building.
When they entered the building, firefighters found a fire above the ceiling in the kitchen area of the restaurant.
The fire was extinguished in an hour, but firefighters remained at the scene completing the investigation. “I could not be more pleased with the cooperation of the fire and police departments,” Williams said.
Mickey Davenport, one of the owners of Avenue Two Hair Styling, located across Main Street from The Office, said he was surprised when he arrived at work at 8:10 a.m. and saw the fire trucks in the street.
“I hate to see anything bad happen,” Davenport said. “The place is always packed.”
Williams said he is grateful for the offers of help he has received from neighboring businesses, such as Ron Onesti from the Arcada Theatre.
“We are looking forward to reopening,” he said.