Pantagraph
October 22nd, 2016

BLOOMINGTON — A fire that started in an exhaust hood eventually caused $300,000 damage to Parkview Food and Pub Friday night, Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr said Saturday.

No one was injured and the cause remains under investigation. Parkview, 1003 S. Morris Ave., is a neighborhood restaurant that has stood at the site for decades. It formerly was known as Parkview Inn.

A Saturday post on the restaurant’s Facebook page thanked customers and neighbors for their support and said the owners would rebuild. The McLean County Museum of History said the inn has been on historic Route 66 since 1928.

Workers and firefighters cleared patrons from the restaurant just after firefighters arrived during the dinner hour. Firefighters found smoke and flames when they went outside to check the roof and vents after learning about an earlier fire in the hood system.

Firefighters worked inside until the attic fire grew and they moved outside for safety; the roof partially collapsed while they fought the fire from the exterior. Firefighters were able to reenter the building about an hour later.

Floyd Byers of Bloomington and his family were waiting for their dinner to arrive when his grandson said he smelled “something funny.”

“At first we thought it was incense,” Byers said. “My wife (Dana Byers) said she smelled smoke, then she looked up and there was a firefighter standing there telling us to get out.”

Finding and extinguishing hot spots was complicated by years’ worth of remodeling and additions that left the building with multiple roof lines and small spaces, firefighters said. Even cutting through the roof was difficult because of multiple layers of shingles.

Deb Stokes of Carlock, who was eating in the bar area, said the restaurant was busy, but the evacuation was orderly.

“Wow! I was having dinner and then suddenly I wasn’t,” Stokes said. “Rick (McCormick, the owner) and a firefighter came through to say there was a smoke complaint and we should leave.”

Byers said the dining room started to get hazy as they left, and Stokes said that as soon as she got outside she saw flames coming from the roof over the kitchen area in the rear.

Police blocked Morris from Elm Street to the Miller Park entrance, and firefighters from Normal assisted at the scene.

Many people watching the fire from Miller Park talked about coming to the restaurant with their parents and continuing the tradition as adults.

“I’m a longtime customer,” Stokes said. “It has good food, good atmosphere — good people.”

Tammie and Bobby Watkins of Bloomington were on their way there for dinner when she got a text about the fire.

“It’s a good little family restaurant. We know the owner. We know everybody. I’ve come here since I was this tall,” she said, holding her hand down below her waist.

“There’s not a whole lot of family restaurants here,” she said.

“Not on the west side,” Bobby Watkins added.