Janesville33.4°

Early morning fire destroys Beloit’s Gun Club restaurant

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Ann Fiore
August 8, 2010
— For decades, the Gun Club was the place to go if you wanted a good steak and live music three nights a week.

Revered for its meats, barbecued ribs and fish fry, the supper club at 1122 E. Colley Road attracted customers from Rock County and beyond.


Years ago, they’d sit and listen to Maxine Holler play the piano. More recently, Glenn Davis played the blues with other musicians.


“It’s been a great family place in the Beloit area for years and years and years,” said local guitarist Matt Goodwin, who performed with Davis on Thursday nights.


Tim Huffman, the town of Turtle fire chief, had been there many times.


He also was there at 5:17 a.m. Saturday, when the Gun Club burned to the ground.


The restaurant was already engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived from the town of Turtle, town of Beloit, city of Beloit, village of Clinton and city of South Beloit, Ill.


“It was through the roof when we got there,” said Huffman, who was still on the scene at 6:45 p.m. Saturday.


With the fire so large, all firefighters could do was try to keep it from spreading to neighboring buildings, Huffman said. No injuries were reported. The fire was reported to be under control about 9 a.m.


The restaurant is considered a total loss. Media websites reported the damage at $1 million. There was no official estimate of the loss. The cause has not been determined.


Frank and Cindy Dajka of Rockton, Ill., own the Gun Club. They bought it six or seven years ago after many years of being frequent customers, Goodwin said.


“What you have here is people who bought their favorite restaurant,” he said.


Goodwin said the Dajkas always served quality food and supported live music, even as other restaurants trimmed their entertainment.


“That was unusual,” he said.


Goodwin said he played guitar at the Gun Club on Thursday night, and his son served as the host.


He learned about the fire at 6:23 a.m. Saturday when a friend texted him. The restaurant is a few blocks away from Goodwin’s house, so he hurried over.


He described the Dajkas as “just devastated.”


“This is heart and soul for Cindy,” he said. “They’re just dumbfounded.”


It’s probably too early for the couple to think about rebuilding, Goodwin said. He said Cindy Dajka is more worried about the restaurant’s employees.


The Dajkas could not be reached for comment Saturday.


Huffman said fire investigators are working with officials from the state fire marshal’s office to determine the cause.



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