HUMBOLDT PARK — The owner of Moto Guild Chicago, a community workshop for motorcycle and scooter owners, is “demoralized” after an arson fire destroyed its new home.
In an email sent out to Moto Guild members Friday morning, owner Tony Riccardi said learning about the July 12 fire at 833 N. Albany Ave. was the “worst day of my entire life.”
“Woke up to a voicemail message from the Chicago Fire Department Arson Division and was informed that Moto Guild Chicago is a victim of arson by fire and the building that Moto Guild is leasing has extensive damage,” said Riccardi. “The cause of the fire was from a car that was stolen earlier that evening and involved in a crime and then later abandoned next to the building. The car was then set ablaze [and] burned into the building subsequently setting our shop on fire.”
The car was reported stolen from the 9000 block of South Wallace shortly after midnight on July 12, said Patrick McGinnis, a Chicago Police spokesman
After the car was torched, police were called and found Moto Guild’s building on fire, police said.
Moto Guild is a workshop where riders pay a fee, either by the hour or month, to store and work on their motorcycles and scooters. In addition to access to specialized equipment the average person wouldn’t have sitting around in their own garage, Moto Guild also offers workshops that focus on things like rebuilding a carburetor as well as group classes where teams race to build a motorcycle from parts.
Since May 30, Moto Guild has been moving out of its location at 2213 W. Grand Ave and into the larger space at 833 N. Albany Ave. Members had been helping the owners move, and the new space was slated to open sometime in July. As part of the move, improvements were being made to the building like new lighting, bathrooms and overhead doors.
In his Friday email, Riccardi said that Moto Guild’s “capital equipment, electronic data, valuable records and paperwork, furniture, computers, money, art, and displays has been lost.” Additionally, some of the bins that members stored spare parts in have fire damage. The motorcycles parked in the back of the shop were covered in soot and need to be professionally cleaned and detailed.
Riccardi said Friday he hopes Moto Guild can rebound from the fire but he’s still waiting to hear back from insurance companies.
“The odds of this happening are like 5 million to one, right?,” he said. “That building has been there for like 50 years and the worst thing that has probably ever happened is a rock was thrown in through the windows.”
Andreas Brandl, a Moto Guild member since 2016 who rides a 1964 Vespa GL, said the arson “left a gap” in his daily life.
“I love to go there as you meet similar minded people from all walks of life. We all had that one interest in common, working on your bikes, scooters and Vespas,” said Brandl.
“You get to learn new trades, become friends and enjoy Tony’s excellent hospitality! He helps everyone however he can, even if it was just, ‘Hey, can you hold my bike for a sec!’ Not having this gathering place anymore left a gap in my daily social life.”