WRIGLEYVILLE — Reeling from the fire that destroyed his business when it swept through a Wrigleyville building Friday night, Sejo Cantic watched crews begin demolition of the charred structure Saturday afternoon.
"The building is completely totaled," said Cantic, owner of Samah Hookah Lounge. "Just look at it."
Samah was one of three businesses gutted by the fire at 3330 N. Clark St. A restaurant, Thai Classic, and a bar, Roadhouse 66, were also destroyed.
Fire department officials said Saturday an investigation to determine the cause of the fire would probably last until next week, but officials said they believe the blaze began near the back kitchen area of Samah, where the hookah bar and Roadhouse 66 join.
Curious onlookers watched from across the street, taking pictures and videos, as crews began to tear down the scorched building. Workers said the process would take at least two days to complete.
Cantic stood behind yellow tape that blocked off the sidewalk on the west side of Clark Street, watching as a small, yellow bulldozer ripped into the front of his business.
Cantic said he received a call from Samah's manager about 5:30 p.m. Friday to let him know about the fire. As he raced to Wrigleyville on Lake Shore Drive, he could see smoke billowing from the site as far south as Navy Pier, he said.
On Saturday, Cantic said he was glad to hear no one was injured in the blaze, but now he is faced with restarting his business.
"It's been a roller coaster of emotions," Cantic, 31, said. "We're going to take it day by day."
The owners of Roadhouse 66 and Thai Classic could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday, but a statement posted on Roadhouse 66's website said it "will be back up and running before you know it!"
"Our bar may be gone, but the spirit of Roadhouse lives on," the statement said.
Cantic said he hopes to rebuild on the site, but stopped short of saying it would definitely happen.
"Hopefully, we'd like to come back bigger and better," he said. "Realistically, we have to see what we have on our hands when the dust settles."
Cantic said his business, which he's run since 2004, had made a "strong name" for itself, attracting customers from all over the Midwest and even athletes like NBA superstar Kevin Durant. There is a second Samah location in Edgewater.
Some surrounding businesses were also affected by Friday's fire.
Moksha Yoga, located directly north of Thai Classic, was closed Saturday due to the fire. The studio suffered "smoke and water" damage throughout the space, said Moksha employee Shannon Noll.
Noll said there was no physical damage to the building's structure and hoped the studio would be open early next week.
Gordon Salon, located next-door to Moksha Yoga, was open Saturday, despite a smoky smell in the building, said stylist Lauren Leininger. Leininger said the fire had not affected business for the salon.
"We came in early today and ran fans," Leininger said. "And we've been taking clients all day."
InVision, a school for psychics, located above Gordon Salon, was also open Saturday.
"They evacuated us yesterday, but today it's back to business as usual," said InVision employee Michael Bennett.
Bennett said inspectors had made their way through the building Saturday morning. He said he and others in the building were also getting "a bit of a whiff" of smoke, but that was about the extent of the fire damage.
CTA officials temporarily rerouted the #22 bus around the site of the demolition from 5 p.m. until about 6:15 p.m.
The fire, which broke out about 5 p.m. Friday, was struck out by firefighters about 7 p.m. A mayday call was sent out when part of the building's roof collapsed, leaving firefighters trapped. All firefighters were rescued safely, and no injuries were reported, fire officials said.