As construction crews armed with an excavator tore through the Diner Grill’s roof on Friday morning, rumors began to fly that the 78-year-old greasy spoon — besieged by a Christmas Eve fire last year — was about to be demolished. Owner Arnold DeMar on Friday afternoon quelled those rumors, saying that finally, after months of trying, he received the needed city approvals to commence the rebuild. He plans on reopening the diner in November at 1635 W. Irving Park Road.
For fans of the restaurant, it was a traumatic sight as crews broke through the roof of the tiny restaurant near Ashland and Irving Park. When told that people were worried that the late-night restaurant would never reopen, DeMar laughed.
“Oh yeah, for sure we’re reopening,” he said. “I’ve got to feed my family.”
Diner Grill had been open 24 hours a day, every day — except Christmas Day, the day before the fire. The restaurant is a beacon for those who work late, including those in the restaurant and bar industry, and for folks who need something to soak up some alcohol after leaving the bars in the early morning hours.
DeMar in December vowed he would quickly reopen in two months. The city had other ideas, and told DeMar he would have to replace the water supply and make other infrastructure improvements to bring the building up to current codes. The city continually deferred their approvals, lengthening the process. All in all, DeMar estimated that insurance will pay for $400,000 of work.