Charlie Hooper’s set to reopen popular Brookside eatery, nine weeks after kitchen fire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- They've risen from the ashes, and they're ready to celebrate.

Charlie Hooper's Bar and Grille, which sits at 63rd and Brookside, is prepared to reopen, nine weeks after a devastating fire threatened to destroy the building.

They're back to smiling at this Brookside eatery, but it's been tough getting here.

General manager George Clarke said he was making steaks in the restaurant's kitchen on June 16 when a grease fire broke out and whirled out of control. Clarke said when the fire got into a broiler, it seemed to intensify the blaze.

Flames tore through one side of the building and ruined the kitchen.

Most of the building was untouched by the flames, but there was significant smoke damage, which forced Charlie Hooper's owners to close for nine weeks.

"We tried to put some extinguishers on it, and it got up into the hoods and there was no stopping it once it caught that grease," Clarke told FOX4.

A big crowd is expected for Friday's grand reopening. A huge sign hangs on the restaurant's front facade, advertising the bar and grille's return.

Managers at Charlie Hooper's used this downtime to give the bar a facelift. There's a huge new beer cooler behind the bar, which Clarke figures to hold as many as 300 beer bottles. The restaurant's walls and kitchen gear are all brand new as well.

Regular customers are happy that Hooper's popular Saturday hotdogs will be back. Clarke said the eatery's menu will be expanded to include tasty new fare as well.

Clarke said the restaurant's staff had its lost wages covered by an insurance policy.

"It's great. The anxiety from having things not be in place. You're so used to things being in a certain spot and having everything be chaos for a couple of months is not fun," Clarke said.

"I used to come here quite a bit until it closed down," said Shawn Frost, one of Charlie Hoopers' regular customers. "I'm really stoked to see it back. It's a neighborhood place with a hometown feel. It doesn't have the big city feel. It has a homey feel to it."

"We do a good job of it because we love this neighborhood and everybody who comes in here," Clarke concluded.

Charlie Hooper's is at least 35 years old. Restaurant owners said they're unsure when it opened, but Joyce Smith, longtime food writer for the Kansas City Star, said it was 1984 when Hooper's served its first draft beer.

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