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Calumet Fisheries in South Deering on June 23, 2022. Credit: Colin Boyle/Ecoglobalsociety

SOUTH CHICAGO — Beloved seafood shack Calumet Fisheries is reopening this weekend, seven months after a fire caused extensive damage and forced owners to rebuild and restore its iconic signs.

Calumet Fisheries, 3259 E. 95th St., reopens 9 a.m. Saturday, the restaurant posted on Facebook.

Hours will be 10 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m.-9:45 p.m. Friday-Saturday and the owners said in a Facebook post.

The spot was ravaged by a fire in November, just three days after it reopened following a failed health inspection. Firefighters quickly put out the blaze, which engulfed the roof of the restaurant.

Investigators determined the November fire was accidental and caused by an electrical issue. The fire started in a “large void in [an] upper area,” and the damage was “extensive,” Fire Department officials said.

Major damage could be seen on the roof and the sides of the building after the fire was put out. No one was hurt, and no customers were in the restaurant when the fire broke out.

Management hoped to repair the damage and reopen in a few months, though they were “not sure” whether the building could be saved in the fire’s immediate aftermath, assistant manager Ivan Huerta said at the time.

Crews worked throughout the spring to repair the exterior, plumbing, electrical work and drywalling, owner Mark Kotlick previously told Block Club.

Northwest Indiana artist Casey King installs a new recreation of the original Calumet Fisheries sign Feb. 25. Credit: Brother Yeshua/Provided

Hammond-based artist Casey King, a regular at Calumet Fisheries since he was a kid, offered to help when he heard the news about the fire, he told Block Club.

“I reached out to the owner of Calumet Fisheries and asked if they needed any signage or mural work potentially for their reopening, and [owner Mark Kotlick] got back to me right away,” King previously said.

King used his graphic design skills to simulate Calumet Fisheries’ vacuum-formed menu boards from the mid-20th century and iconic, simple exterior signage. The outdoor sign was produced at his father’s business, Region Signs in Whiting, Indiana.

“This would be the first time I’ve done a project like this,” King said. “I’m happy to help Mark bring back his restaurant and keep some of the touches the same as what they were. I think his restaurant is simple in its design and all, and I think his customers really value that.”

The “cleaner” recreations can’t replace all the history behind the old signs, but King pledged to do his best to produce “one-to-one” copies, he said.

“It’ll be printed signage, but in order to create it, I’ve had to gather various Internet photos and files from Mark,” said King, whose great-grandparents owned the defunct Chapski’s Grocery in South Chicago. “I’m piecing them together, digitizing them and trying to create those menus.”

An order of the fish dinner from Calumet Fisheries on Jan. 4, 2023. Credit: Colin Boyle/Ecoglobalsociety

Calumet Fisheries, known for its wood-smoked fish, opened in 1948 near the 95th Street Bridge over the Calumet River. The cash-only spot has long attracted celebrities and tourists to the Far South Side.

Vice President Kamala Harris picked up 3 pounds of fish from the shop after speaking on bridge infrastructure in January. Late chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain featured Calumet Fisheries on a 2009 episode of “No Reservations.”

In 2010, Calumet Fisheries won an America’s Classics Award from the James Beard Foundation, long considered the gatekeeper of American culinary excellence.


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