The Firehouse closes after 28 years

The closing of The Firehouse caught a lot of people by surprise.
Posted on March 3, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.

After 28 years, an Elkhart bar and restaurant closed abruptly last week.

The Firehouse, which has been on the northeast side of Elkhart, shut down after business on Sunday, Feb. 24. The next morning, an employee texted other employees to say that the doors were shut for good.

The location at 4000 E. Bristol St. in Cobblestone Crossing is mostly empty, except for the furnishings. The fire memorabilia that was on the walls was taken down as the place closed.

Larry Houghton, a former firefighter, owned the business. He hasn’t returned a call seeking comment on why the business closed.

Property manager Rob Letherman of Northland Corp. said he has no comment. Friday morning, a “For Lease” sign is in the window and another sign said the place is closed until further notice.

Regulars at the neighborhood bar spilled over to Fat Tomato or Dino’s last week. Employees were looking for other jobs. Arlene Hart, who worked there part-time for three years, said she’ll find something else.

Hart said the restaurant had been running out of items in February and business was slow. But she didn’t see the closing coming, even when Houghton sent her home early last Sunday and told her not to restock the beer coolers.

The Elkhart County Health Department inspected the restaurant in early February and found five critical violations and eight non-critical violations, including how food was stored, the restaurant not having a certified food handler, and dust on shelves.

Since the closing, some criticized The Firehouse, but others said how much they’ll miss it. Diane Mckibbin, who lives nearby, said they often got carry-out or went there when possible. “It was one of my favorite places,” she said.

Ÿ Dave Ullery is getting back in the restaurant business. He’s stayed in the catering business after the closing of Pumpernickel’s at 500 S. Main St., Elkhart, but plans to open Pumpernickel’s Pretzel Bakery, possibly on March 18. He plans to be open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday with sandwiches, soups, salads and baked pretzels. The sandwiches will be served on pretzel rolls and sell for $5 or $6, he said. A pretzel and sauce will cost about $3 and pretzel bread bowls will also be made to hold soup. He’s also planning to do downtown delivery. I’m excited about this new option in downtown Elkhart.

Ÿ Das Dutchman Essenhaus’ annual cooking show is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, March 9, at 240 U.S. 20, Middlebury. The event will have cooking demonstrations, samples, door prizes and a sale on gadgets. Participants will also get a discount coupon for family-style dinner. The event is free and no reservations are needed. Information: 574-825-9471

Ÿ Rise Up Farms is accepting subscribers for the year’s Community Supported Agriculture season. You pay $310 or $575 and get vegetables weekly June 4 to Oct. 15. Pickups are available in Elkhart, South Bend and at the farm. I was part of the CSA last year during the drought and the farm provided a range of greens, tomatoes and other organic vegetables. Information: 574-293-5524 or www.riseupfarms.webs.com.

Ÿ Mark your calendars for Granger Restaurant week April 12-21. South Bend Foodies has worked with Granger restaurants to feature $15 or $30 meals. A number of Granger restaurants will participate, including Soho Japanese Bistro, Uptown Kitchen, Villa Macri, Tony Sacco’s, Ruth’s Chris Steak House and others. I’ll share more details in the coming weeks and days.

Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columns for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at mking@etruth.com, 574-296-5805, on Twitter or Instagram @hungrymarshall and via the Dining A La King Facebook page.


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