Out of the flames: Grayslake Dog n Suds works toward reopening after fire

Efforts are underway to get the Grayslake Dog n Suds drive-in restaurant back up and running after a fire in the early morning of April 20 disrupted operation.

In a Facebook update posted just hours after the fire, the business promised it would return. While extensive restoration of the building proceeds, the restaurant plans to sell its famous Coney dogs and Texas burgers out of food trucks.

According to Dog n Suds’ management, two food trucks had been purchased before the fire and were intended to roll out this summer. On Friday, the village of Grayslake issued a permit for temporary use of the trucks and BBQ’d Productions in Third Lake has offered kitchen space for the endeavor.

Now, Dog n Suds is waiting on health department approval of BBQ’d as the food truck kitchen. The trucks themselves also need to be outfitted with the proper equipment, a task that management said may take awhile. The exact timeline is uncertain, but one of the trucks was taken to an equipment vendor Monday to be evaluated for outfitting.

The current plan, management said, is to get one of the food trucks up and running as soon as possible, to get employees back on the job and revenue coming in again. Sales from the first truck then will be used to make the second one operational.

Grayslake Fire District trucks on scene at Dog n Suds the morning of the fire. The business is bouncing back with plans for restoration and food trucks. Courtesy of Grayslake Dog n Suds

The restaurant has received an outpouring of support from local businesses and community members. A “Fire Fund” set up on May 2 to receive donations on the Dog n Suds website had raised $6,500 as of Monday afternoon, and the business also has been selling digital gift cards.

Dog n Suds management said the community support has been “fantastic” and that money from the Fire Fund will go toward keeping their 31 employees on payroll and also will be used for fire-related costs that insurance will not cover.

While the Grayslake Fire District initially estimated the fire damage at $120,000, management said that restoration costs have skyrocketed due to code updates needed on the 60-year-old building. As a result, the road to get the drive-in fully operational again is long and the timeline uncertain.

Part of the Dog n Suds interior following the fire. Work is necessary not only to fix damage but also to bring the 60-year-old building up to code. Courtesy of Grayslake Dog n Suds

Employees and vendors have taken stock of the damage and over the weekend, ComEd restored temporary power to the building allowing contractors to start work inside.

While restoration gets underway, support for the business — which has operated since 1964 and is one of 11 original Dog n Suds locations still open — continues. On May 30, Discovering Grayslake podcast and First Draft Grayslake are hosting an “80s Ladies Night” to raise funds for Dog n Suds.

A Lake County Jeep Club takeover event on May 31, originally planned for the Grayslake location, now has been moved to Miller’s Dog n Suds in Ingleside — 10% of the proceeds will be donated to the Grayslake drive-in.

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