Fire wrecks popular Millstadt, Illinois restaurant

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILLSTADT, IL (KPLR) – The owners of a Millstadt, Illinois landmark seriously damaged by fire said things couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

Jason Swope and Angie Ames, owners of West End Bar and Restaurant, said the fire was believed to have started in the kitchen in a pile of towels.

Restoration crews have begun cleaning up. The business has been in the couple’s family for a decade.

There have been many additions to the building. It opened in 1890 as a general store. After prohibition ended in the 1930s it became a bar; the restaurant was added in the 1950s. It’s popular across the St. Louis metro area.

“We’ve had people coming by offering help anyway they can,” Swope said.

Trophies from sports teams the establishment supported and photos of former owners are covered in soot. The Friday fish fries in Lent made the place popular. The fire means the restaurant will lose three big nights of business and that’s a big deal.

“That’s a make or break (for us). Lent is our busiest time of the year; it’s like Christmas,” Ames said.

Swope said the kitchen alone doubles and nearly triples their business on Fridays during Lent.

The bar at West End probably won't reopen for a few months. The restaurant won't reopen until at least September because the kitchen was a total loss.