Monday afternoon, I started getting emails and texts from a variety of people making sure I knew The Firehouse, 4000 E. Bristol St., Elkhart, had closed abruptly.
The calls and emails are still coming.
I’ve been able to confirm a few facts since the original post, but I still don’t know exactly why owner Larry Houghton opted to shut down the restaurant and bar. He hasn’t returned my call. Rob Letherman of Northland Corp. helps manage the property and said he has no comment.
Arlene Hart, who worked there part-time the last three years, said Houghton let her go home early Sunday night, Feb. 24, and told her not to worry about refilling the beer coolers. She said that they had also been running out of items recently because Houghton wasn’t reordering items. She said business had been slow.
Hart said she got a text message from an employee, not Houghton, Monday morning saying that the doors were closed for good. She hasn’t spoken with Houghton or heard from him.
On Feb. 6, the Elkhart County Health Department inspected the business and found five critical and eight non-critical violations, including how raw meat was stored in a cooler, a burned out lightbulb and the restaurant not having a certified food handler.
Diane Mckibbin, who lives nearby, said she’ll miss the neighborhood bar. “It was one of my favorite places,” she said. The closing is the talk of the neighborhood.
Not everyone was in love with the place. Comments on The Elkhart Truth’s Facebook page ranged from expressing sadness to saying it was “awful.”