BUCKTOWN — A fire abruptly closed The Bento Box Sunday and it’s unclear if and when the restaurant will reopen.
The Asian fusion restaurant, 2246 W. Armitage Ave., will be closed for at least the next few months, owner Rick Spiros said.
As of Monday afternoon, the Chicago Fire Department was still investigating the fire, Spiros said.
The fire occurred around 3:30 a.m. Sunday — several hours after The Bento Box closed at 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Spiros said. The fire originated near the dishwasher area, he said.
The Bento Box’s flooring and drywall are severely damaged as a result of the fire, Spiros said.
None of Spiros’ 10 employees were injured during the fire. The residential tenants who live above the restaurant are safe, too, Spiros said.
“The number one thing at the end of this was the emotion of gratitude that everyone was OK,” he said. “The neighborhood has been beyond supportive … and wanting to help. It’s been great. And they’re devastated for me, but there’s all kinds of silver linings in this.”
Spiros said he will meet with insurance agent this week.
In the mean time, he said, he hopes his customers will “be patient” until he knows more information.
“Bear with me, I’m trying to figure this out the best I can,” he said. “I’m not out. I will come back and kick ass. There’s no doubt about that.”
Spiros, a Chicago native and lifelong restaurateur, opened The Bento Box in December 2010.
The chef opened both businesses after a career of cooking in Chicago restaurants. He developed his love for Asian cooking styles while working at a Lakeview restaurant in the late ’90s.
From 1999-2005 Spiros operated his own private dinner party business called Intimate Dining.
In May 2010 he opened Artisan Catering in Bucktown. Later that year, he opened The Bento Box in the same location.
Spiros lives in Lincoln Square with his wife, Meredith Spiros, and their 13-year-old son. But the family feels as if Bucktown is their home base in Chicago, Spiros said.
Spiros lived in Bucktown shortly before opening The Bento Box. And Meredith Spiros recently opened Studio 1945, 1945 N. Damen Ave.
In January, a fan of The Bento Box nominated the restaurant to be featured in an episode of WTTW’s “Check, Please!“
“I feel like I belong more to the Bucktown community than the street I live on,” Spiros said. “I’ve been in that neighborhood for so long. … I’m grateful that I’m in that community and that they have been so amazing. … I just want to say thank you.”
While he won’t be providing catering services for the time being, he is accepting new clients for in-home private dining services.
Those interested in hiring Spiros for in-home dinners can contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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