By Charlie De Mar

CHICAGO (CBS) — The Belmont Snack Shop, a beloved Avondale greasy spoon, went up in flames Thursday evening.

The still-and-box alarm fire broke out in the building at 3407 W. Belmont Ave. just west of Kimball Avenue, which houses the Belmont Snack Shop in a brick structure on the ground floor and appeared to have a wooden second story.

Sad customers came out to see their beloved spot burn.

As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, the Belmont Snack Shop is an institution. It was clear how much the diner meant to people as dozens watched on as firefighters worked to put out the flames.

Much of the restaurant had to be pulled out. The walls were ripped out, and the counter and the red stools were all but unrecognizable.

The building is likely a total loss.

Angel Marquez is a regular at the restaurant and was inside at the time.

“It’s killing me,” Marquez said. “I went here when I got diagnosed with MS. I went here when my godmother and my grandma passed away.”

In addition to the restaurant, the building housed apartments on that second level. Four families were displaced.

“It’s been here as long as I’ve been here – probably way beyond that, you know? It was one of those kind of snack shops, you know, that are open all night, and up until the pandemic it was doing OK, but the last eight, nine months…” said another man, John.

Gas and water lines needed to be shut off for safety. The Chicago Fire Department first attacked this fire from the inside, but as it spread to the second floor, firefighters pulled out – taking a more defensive approach.

Marquez went to the Belmont Snack Shop every day, and embraced life’s highs and lows there.

“The flames in the grill – it just started off with a little bit of flames, and then it kept on going up and up,” Marquez said. “The employees just looked at me like – the fire extinguisher doesn’t really work right now.”

The American Red Cross of Greater Chicago was at the scene Thursday night. No one was injured.

 

Charlie De Mar