BUCKTOWN — The Art of Chicken has been closed since a fire broke out there Friday morning — and the owner of the popular Bucktown restaurant said on Monday he's not sure when it will reopen.
The fire started about 10:45 a.m. Friday, as a roofing company was taking out an old roof and preparing to put in a new one, according to owner Christian Moreno.
"They used a method where they torched the ceiling — it's a common method — and it caught on fire. By the time they realized it, the fire spread. There was lots of old wood in the roof," said Moreno, who was parking his car nearby when he said he saw "the chaos."
The roof went up in flames, and an apartment above the restaurant was damaged.
Moreno said a tenant who lives upstairs ran downstairs after the fire erupted.
"Thank God, nobody got hurt. All of her stuff got damaged," Moreno said.
At the time the fire started, artist Sam Kirk and her crew were spray-painting a new mural on the exterior facade of the building at 2041 N. Western Ave.
"The smoke was coming from the roof area; the roofers were working on the roof and my crew had everything set up for the mural. When we realized there was a fire, we packed up and left," said Kirk on Monday.
The half-finished mural will be completed at a later date.
"We are waiting to hear back to see the game plan and would ideally like to finish it in September," Kirk said.
The Art of Chicken opened in March 2013 and specializes in flame-broiled chicken.
Moreno, who owns a food truck that is not being used, said he is thinking about trying to get a license for it and operating a food truck until the restaurant gets back up and running.
"I want my guys to make money. It's a domino effect. I'm worried about my employees. There are 10 people scrambling [for pay]. Hopefully they won't lose so many days of work," he said.
Moreno said that the restaurant was shut down by the city's Health Department due to smoke and water damage. A city inspection will be required before the Art of Chicken can reopen.
"Right now, I have no idea when we'll reopen," Moreno said.
On Friday, Moreno updated fans of the Art of Chicken.
"Unfortunately our building caught on fire this morning and due to all the damages we are forced to close 😢We will be working hard to get everything back up and running as soon as possible. We will keep y'all updated and sorry for any inconvenience," Moreno posted on Instagram.