Austin’s Saloon in Libertyville set to reopen three days after Easter fire

  Austin's Saloon owner Mark Khayat speaks outside the restaurant following Sunday's fire, which broke out during an Easter buffet. Steve Zalusky/

Three days after flames erupted during an Easter buffet at Austin’s Saloon in Libertyville, the popular restaurant is reopening its doors for business Wednesday morning.

Owner Mark Khayat said the eatery has been cleared by the Lake County Health Department and Libertyville’s building department, and will be ready to serve customers promptly at 11 a.m.

“Thank you to the quick reaction of the Libertyville fire and police and everyone who worked tirelessly to protect patrons and help get us back to business — and of course, thank you to our customers for your patience, outreach, and understanding,” the restaurant posted on its website Tuesday.

The fire occurred in the restaurant’s lounge area at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, forcing 500 and 600 customers to evacuate during their Easter meal. Restaurant staff equipped with three fire extinguishers were able to douse the flames, manager Drew Ryan said.

Libertyville Fire Department officials said four people complained of smoke inhalation and one person was taken to Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville. None of the injuries were described as serious.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but Khayat pins blame on a faulty piece of equipment on the buffet line that leaked propane gas.

As soon as staff was allowed back in the building at about 3 p.m. Sunday, they went to work with “a whole bunch of elbow grease” getting it ready to reopen, Khayat said.

Among the issues they had to address were smoke and ceiling damage. They also had to clean out the water from the sprinkler heads that flooded the lounge area.

“I couldn’t ask for a better crew,” Khayat said. “They stayed until about midnight, and that day we got such a big jump on it.”

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