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updated: 3/6/2013 9:20 PM

Roof collapses at popular Des Plaines banquet facility

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  • Video: Roof Collapse at Cafe la Cave

  • Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.

       Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.

       Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.

       Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Kimberly Sutter, an owner of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines, was on scene Wednesday after a roof collapse over a portion the banquet hall and restaurant.

       Kimberly Sutter, an owner of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines, was on scene Wednesday after a roof collapse over a portion the banquet hall and restaurant.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

  • Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.

       Authorities suspect a buildup of snow from Tuesday's winter storm caused the roof to collapse over a portion of Cafe la Cave in Des Plaines. The collapse destroyed one ballroom and damaged other portions of the banquet hall and restaurant.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

Though he's thankful no one was hurt, Gus Sutter said he's devastated by a roof collapse at his popular Cafe La Cave banquet hall and restaurant in Des Plaines.

"It's a total disaster," Sutter said. "We've never had a problem with the building before, and now it's a mess."

From the outside of the 22-year-old building at 2777 Mannheim Road, it appeared as though nothing was wrong.

But engineers, city building department inspectors, employees and cleaning crews could be seen hurrying in and out of the hall throughout the day Wednesday.

Des Plaines Fire Chief Alan Wax said everyone's best guess of what caused the roof above the baby grand ballroom on the south end of the building to collapse early Wednesday morning was the snow buildup from Tuesday's storm on the flat roof.

A section of roof measuring about 50 by 30 feet fell in, severing sprinkler system lines and pipes. The water flow activated an alarm to the fire department at 12:46 a.m., Wax said.

Sutter said he came to the hall around 3 a.m. after receiving a call from police and found it flooded. On Wednesday afternoon vacuums and fans were set up around the building to clean up the water.

In the baby grand ballroom, the only section of the building deemed unsafe, white debris still covered the carpet and one end of the ceiling, along with two chandeliers, rested on the floor.

Luckily, Sutter said, the room was empty and the only other item that was damaged was a piano. He said demolition of the room is scheduled for Thursday, and he hopes to have it redone in six to eight weeks.

Sutter said he had to cancel a function scheduled Wednesday night for 300 people, but he was able to send them to Fountain Blue Banquets, just north of his facility. There are eight additional functions slated for the weekend, and he's not sure whether Cafe La Cave will be able to hold all of them, but he hopes the hall will be open again by then.

"Everyone can please rest assured that deposits won't be an issue, and we're trying our hardest to find other venues," Sutter said, adding that he understands the concerns of the dozens of brides and other people who called him Wednesday.

Sutter added he was grateful for all the support his clients, employees and city officials were giving him.

"I think we're on the right track," he said. "We have some of the best people in the city working on this."

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