Your NPR news source
Calumet Fisheries at 3259 E. 95th St. along the Calumet River, Chicago

Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E. 95th St., is reopening with all the classic menu favorites after a November fire.

Brian Ernst/Sun-Times file

Calumet Fisheries to reopen Saturday — rebuilt after devastating fire last fall

The seafood restaurant was gutted in a fire in November due to an electrical issue. It underwent extensive renovation for its Saturday soft reopening

Calumet Fisheries, the beloved seafood restaurant on the Southeast Side is reopening Saturday with fresh renovations — but with the same menu that Chicagoans have loved for generations.

La Voz Sidebar

Lea este artículo en español en La Voz Chicago, la sección bilingüe del Sun-Times.

The restaurant, 3259 E. 95th St., temporarily closed after an electrical fire in November. But after months of rebuilding, it will open its doors at 9 a.m. Saturday, co-owner Mark Kotlick told the Sun-Times on Thursday.

“It’s been a long and stressful time. We just can’t wait to see everybody and serve the community,” Kotlick said.

The fire last year was “devastating,” Kotlick said.

“We’ve never really had anything that shut us down for more than a day here,” Kotlick said. “I couldn’t let the business go downhill after 76 years in my family.”

Calumet Fisheries opened in 1928 and is one of the few smokehouses left in Illinois. The restaurant’s menu has two sides: fried and smoked, featuring items such as frogs legs and trout.

But the house specialty is smoked shrimp.

“We’re still a fried shrimp and smoked fish business. You come in. You look at our menu board. It’ll look exactly like it used to,” Kotlick said.

The restaurant has been ready for a few weeks but was waiting on the health department’s approval, which it received Thursday. After the fire, Calumet Fisheries now has a “completely redone interior,” with a new menu board and open kitchen.

Because it’s a takeout spot, customers often sit on the curb or tailgate at their cars. They can also sit at the two picnic tables outside by the 95th Street bridge, where they can admire boats passing on the Calumet River.

“It’s like a little party out there,” Kotlick said.

The restaurant also brought in new equipment — anything that a restaurant needs, they got it, Kotlick said. Before the renovations, the walk-in coolers were “ancient,” Kotlick said.

“Walk-in coolers, refrigerators, freezers, scales, fryers, fire suppression systems,” Kotlick said. “It’s all new. It’s awesome.”

Saturday will be a soft opening, so employees can get used to the crowds and the new equipment, Kotlick said.

But down the line, Calumet Fisheries plans to do a grand opening with discounted food, shirt giveaways and other festivities — likely in July or August.

The restaurant paid most of its employees during the renovations, so they could return to work.

“We’re going have pretty much the same faces that everybody’s used to,” he said.

The family is excited for the reopening. It’s a landmark spot that’s been with the family since 1948.

“My Facebook page has been off the hook with people just dying to come back,” Kotlick said. “It’s really heartwarming.”

The Latest
Some high schoolers say they started their own brands for the profits. Others are jumping into streetwear in pursuit of a creative outlet.
Major online oddsmakers say they have to “reevaluate” their Illinois operations with a hefty tax increase on the way.
In January, a Yellow Banana executive promised the city his company would improve after multiple delays opening stores in underserved South and West side communities.