Massive fire destroys former Lake Zurich Hackney's
Fire reduced the former Hackney's restaurant in Lake Zurich to a jumbled pile of rubble overnight Sunday.
But it couldn't melt away the memories of those who gathered at the scene later in the day to take pictures of the gutted eatery or simply peer at its charred ruins.
"This is iconic," North Barrington resident Kevin Ryan said of the restaurant that was a suburban dining institution for nearly five decades before closing last year. "To me, you weren't going here for a great meal. You were going here for the experience of Hackney's. To go like this is kind of sad."
Lake Zurich firefighters responded to the restaurant at 880 N. Old Rand Road about 1:40 a.m. Sunday and battled the massive blaze for nearly two hours before bringing it under control, officials said. Fire crews from more than 20 area departments assisted, and some remained at the restaurant site past 7:30 a.m. extinguishing hot spots.
No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire remains under investigation, officials said. No damage estimates were available Sunday, but little remained of the restaurant building beyond a pair of brick chimneys, blackened window frames, cinder block and twisted piping.
By noon Sunday a steady stream of visitors was stopping by to see the destruction firsthand.
Former Hackney's workers Tina and Ryan Miller of Lake Zurich stopped by with their 2-year-old daughter, Reagan. Tina grew emotional as she surveyed the scene.
"My husband and I started dating when we were working here," she said through tears.
"I worked here for 15 years," Ryan Miller added. "It was my first job. This is sad. The end of an era."
Hackney's closed in March 2017 after 48 years in business when its owner retired and put the restaurant building and 11-acre site for sale. Earlier this year, after months of debate and objections from residents living near the property, Lake Zurich's village board approved a proposal to build a two-story Life Time Fitness health club on the site.
"A lot of memories lost in a couple of hours," said longtime Lake Zurich resident Jim Mathisen, who recalled family dinners at Hackney's. "It was kind of a social anchor before all the restaurant development and other business development was here."
Mathisen said he was reminded of a similar fire in the area at J.J. Twig's pizzeria in 2004.
"I'm just glad no one was hurt," he said.
Maurice Gauthier of Lake Zurich remembered going for walks along Lake Zurich then capping the excursion with a Hackney's burger and a beer.
"On St. Paddy's Day, this place was always packed wall to wall," he added.