DEARBORN (WWJ) – A long-time fixture in downtown Dearborn “where everybody knows your name” has been completely gutted by fire, which also destroyed a neighboring gift shop.
Howell’s Bar & Grill, on Mason Street near Michigan Avenue, was half-full with customers when fire broke out around 7 p.m. Friday. Patrons rushed into the street where they gathered and watched as flames and black smoke poured out of the building.
Dearborn Fire Battalion Chief Andy Lenaghan said the fire started in the restaurant’s basement.
“By the time we got back to the original basement, it had already taken off and extended up into the bar area, into the first floor. So, we pulled the guys out, went defensive and started hitting it from the outside at that point. It became too unsafe,” Lenaghan told WWJ’s Beth Fisher.
The flames ravaged the tavern and spread to an attached business, Sophia’s Giftique. Both businesses are completely gutted on the inside, although the building is still standing.
Jacquilyn Taschler, the daughter of a woman who managed Howell’s for more than 20 years, said the fire is heartbreaking for many in the neighborhood.
“It’s sad because it’s an icon,” she said. “It’s something that, you know, all the old timers came to. It was a very popular place. You had people that were very young coming because their grandfathers and great grandfathers came here. So, it was a tradition in Dearborn. Everyone knew everyone. Me being a woman, I felt safe going there alone. It was just a safe, good place.”
Lenaghan said everyone was able to get out of the building safely without any injuries.
A cause of the fire remains under investigation.