Monday, September 05, 2011

Explosion Rocks My World - Fire at Fabled Franconello's

Photo Det. Shaved
A phone call after 11 P.M. is never good news. My daughters went to the Carrie Underwood concert at Ravinia with their Aunt Gail last night. Nora dropped off Clare at 11:30 P.M. and headed home - kids all accounted for. Early this morning, Nora called and left me this message -"There were fire trucks and cop cars all over Western at 103rd last, when I went home. I wonder what happened." I found out up at Kean Gas when I got my coffee; I could not be more sickened unless I were awakened at the sound of 'Well Good morning, darling. . .' and the sight of Chaz Bono's head on the pillow opposite to mine.

Tragedy. A gas fire erupted at the best restaurant south of Heart of Italy -Franconellos.

By William Lee
Tribune reporter
9:35 a.m. CDT, September 5, 2011

A suspected gas leak sparked an explosion that ripped through an Italian eatery in the West Beverly neighborhood on the city's South Side, officials said this morning.

No injuries were reported in the blaze at Franconello Italian Restaurant, 10220 S. Western Ave. The blaze was called in about 11:57 p.m. Sunday and was struck out by fire crews within 20 minutes authorities said.

The blaze caused heavy fire and structural damage to the building, leading to the collapse of a south wall on the structure's second floor, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

Fire officials suspected the fire was caused by a gas explosion, but fire investigators hadn't pinpointed the cause, officials said.

A representative with Peoples Gas couldn't be reached for comment this morning.

First opening in fall 1993, the restaurant was a partnership between friends Frank Russallo and Nello Sabatina, who combined their names to come up with the restaurant's name.

The friends took a former lawn equipment shop and transformed it into a slick, yet family-friendly restaurant known for its pastel and mauve tones, open kitchen and bottles of fresh oil that adorned every table.

Neither owner could be reached for comment.

Twitter: @MidNoirCowboy

Franconello's is a happy place, where family and friends throng the tables sagging under the weight of the portions. The staff are the friendliest people. Singer and beauty Susan Tunney is one of my favorite waitresses and owner Nello is the Beverly Uncle hosting the party seven days a week.

The food is magnificent.

I hope the loss is temporary.

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