The Monkey Bar and Grille. Photo by: Loveland Symmes Fire Department/WCPO

It is unclear how long the popular restaurant will be closed

By: Jessica Hart , Christian LeDuc

MAINEVILLE, Ohio — Popular Hamilton Township restaurant The Monkey Bar & Grille is closed indefinitely after a fire caused heavy damage.

Crews responded to the report of a fire in the 7800 block of Old 3C Highway around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday. When they arrived, they were met with heavy flames coming from the kitchen, investigators said.

“Significant damage in the kitchen area. All of the fire damage was contained to the kitchen area. The kitchen is a complete loss and then there is water and smoke damage throughout the rest of the building,” said Hamilton Township Fire Chief Jason Jewett.

Fire crews said it took around 30 minutes to get the fire under control.

Owner of the Monkey Bar & Grille Mark Altemeier said they recently renovated their kitchen to have top of the line appliances.

“Very expensive like your fryers are $30,000 dollars, the grill is $30,000 dollars, pizza oven is $20,000 dollars, the rationale ovens $20,000 dollars, the auto shams $12,000 dollars. I mean it’s all brand new,” said Altemeier. “I opened it up last year, so it’s been six years, seven years in the making and we finally built the kitchen.”

Altemeier didn’t hire any contractors to do the renovation. He and his team did all of the work.

“It’s disgusting to see all of the hard work because you know I don’t contract any of the work out. We did it ourselves, me and my guys and just to see all of our work go up in flames literally. It’s disheartening, it’s crazy.”

The fire chief noted the fire caused about $200,000 dollars worth of damage. There were no sprinklers in the kitchen. Jewett said the building was grandfathered in, so it wasn’t required.

No customers were in the business at the time of the fire. Jewett said an employee was watching TV after they had closed and saw the kitchen was on fire. Everyone was able to evacuate the building and no injures were reported.

Altemeier said it will take months before they are able to reopen their kitchen.

“I’ve had tears. I’ve broke down. It’s tough. I’ll look at the community they’re around and I’m not going to give up, so we’re just going to keep on, keeping on and get it opened back up again,” Altemeier said.

He plans to open their patio bar in a few weeks once inspections have been completed. Other than the bar, they restaurant will have its usual food trucks offered during the summer.

“There’s no damage to the main wiring in the building except for the kitchen, so once that’s isolated and we can get it cleaned up, I’m hoping, I’m hoping within the next two weeks we can get our patio opened back up again,” he said.

The Monkey Bar & Grille is a very popular spot in the region, especially during the spring and summer. The family-owned business sits along the Little Miami River near the Loveland Bike Trail.

First responders said the fire started in the kitchen but investigators are still working to determine the cause.

“It’s not suspicious, it’s not incendiary, it was of an accidental nature, and it’s just narrowing down the source,” Jewett said.

Reposted with permission from WCPO 9 Cincinnati.

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