Diner Grill was supposed to be reopened by now, more than a year after a fire forced the closure of the now-79-year-old restaurant. Owner Arnold DeMar hoped to be back open in November, but he’s blaming construction delays on contractors. However, there were signs on Friday morning that a return would soon happen as crews were outside the restaurant putting up Diner Grill’s new signage at 1635 W. Irving Park Road.
The tiny restaurant could “hopefully” open in February, according to DeMar. This time he was a little bit more reluctant in his predictions. Previously open 24/7, the haunt served burgers and other greasy spoon fare. It’s signature dish, the “Slinger” (twin hamburger patties, two sunnyside-up eggs, cheese, hash browns, onions, chili), made it a legend among members of Chicago’s restaurant industry who dined there late nights after work when their own kitchens were finally closed.
A Christmas Eve fire in 2016 ravaged the restaurant as it prepared to close on Christmas Day — the only day Diner Grill is normally closed every year. DeMar was unusually optimistic in the days following the blaze and said he would reopen within two months.
The new buildout appears to retain the same layout of the old restaurant. DeMar had no interest in revamps. He just wanted to keep what made the restaurant special for almost eight decades.