Fire Destroys Popular Route 66 Stop, Reputed Capone Hangout

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Jun 9, 2010  |  Updated 7:29 PM CDT
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More than a dozen fire departments responded to a fire Tuesday night at the Riviera Restaurant in Gardner, <a title=Illinois, in Grundy County." />

Wayne Howard

More than a dozen fire departments responded to a fire Tuesday night at the Riviera Restaurant in Gardner, Illinois, in Grundy County.

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A popular stop along Route 66 and reputed hangout for mobster Al Capone was completely destroyed by fire Tuesday evening.

More than a dozen fire departments responded to the Riviera Restaurant, at 5650 S. Illinois Route 53 in Gardner, as the historic building burned to the ground.  Explosions could be heard inside the building, fire officials reported.

The fire was big news in the small town of Gardner and drew several residents out of their homes to see the fire.  Among them was Wayne Howard, who shot video from his car and across a cornfield. 

The restaurant opened in 1928 and hosted several famous people over the years, including Gene Kelly, Tom Mix and Al Capone, reported FreePressNewspapers.com, which has also posted exclusive photos of the blaze.

The eatery closed on January 1, 2009 but reopened months later under new ownership, according to RoadsideAmerica.com

No injuries are reported.

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