Riviera may close over fire-safety spat

As feared, it appears the historic Riviera Roadhouse along Route 66 in Gardner, Ill., may have to close because of fire-safety problems.

The Joliet Herald-News reports:

The lights were on but no one was home Thursday night at the Riviera Restaurant and Supper Club. The business isn’t operating right now because of a fight over fire safety. […]

Bob Keller, the new owner of the business, has been at odds with the Gardner Fire Protection District and the state fire marshal’s office. The building, thought to be about 80 years old, needs a sprinkler system to comply with fire safety codes. Fire officials restricted the building’s capacity from 173 to 50 while the problems are worked out. […]

A lawsuit filed by Keller in Grundy County Court was discussed. Ribbke said Keller is attempting to deannex from the Gardner fire district to be allowed to annex into the Braceville Fire Protection District.

If the courts grant the deannexation, Gardner would still be the first responder to a fire at the Riviera due to mutual aid agreements. […]

Keller said the Gardner department comes out to inspect every two or three days.

“Three men in an ambulance enter the Riviera and point at each table counting the people,” Keller said. “After they leave, the patrons want to know what just happened and are not pleased to be counted like livestock.”

Yes, I concur with Keller that the Gardner fire department is being hyper-vigilant about fire inspections, close to the point of harassment. But, having talked to Keller a few times, I deduce that he’s way too combative for his own good, to the point where he’s hurting his cause instead of helping it.

Hopefully, both parties will calm down and work something out.

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