A Lake Elsinore-area bar and grill popular with bikers was nearly destroyed in a fire late Friday.
The blaze burned through the kitchen and attic of Hell’s Kitchen Motorsports Bar & Grill on Highway 74 at around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, according to the Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Department.
The restaurant was gutted. Officials estimated the fire burned for about three hours and caused $1.5 million in damage.
When firefighters arrived, they found the restaurant “with smoke and flames coming out of the roof,” officials said in an incident report.
“A quick coordinated fire attack kept the fire from spreading to the rest of the restaurant and vegetation,” officials wrote. Highway 74, also known as Ortega Highway, was shut down for about two hours during the incident. The cause of the fire hasn’t been determined.
No one was injured, but the owner’s dog, Kodi, an 18-month-old husky, died.
“They treated him like my son,” said Frank Opp of the firefighters who carried Kodi out of the building after they found him.
Opp spoke emotionally as he was surrounded by supporters at a “celebration of life” for Kodi on Sunday. He said the dog had become a beloved mascot of the bar recognizable to its patrons.
The Hell’s Kitchen restaurant was a frequent stop for bikers travelling on Highway 74.
In 2018, the bar stayed open as the Holy fire burned through the nearby Cleveland National Forest, with Opp offering to feed firefighters battling that blaze.
In 2020, Opp appeared at protests criticizing California’s COVID-19 restrictions. One protest was scheduled to be held at Hell’s Kitchen, but was moved to Hawk Ranch in Murrieta, according to the Village News. In August, Opp told the Southern California News Group that Hell’s Kitchen had been shuttered for months due to the state shutdowns.
Opp and a supporter of the bar were seeking donations through a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign. They had raised about $6,200 as of 4 p.m. Sunday.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct the location of Hell’s Kitchen Motorsports Bar & Grill. It is on the Ortega Highway near Lake Elsinore.