A popular and long-established local restaurant, Gilbert's Lodge, was gutted by a fire that started early Thursday morning. (David Coates / The Detroit News)
St. Clair Shores — Police are investigating what caused an early Thursday morning fire at a popular and long-established restaurant that once employed rapper Eminem.
St. Clair Shores Police Sgt. Jason Brown said he is waiting for experts to determine the cause of the at Gilbert’s Lodge fire, which originated in the kitchen. He added the cost of the damage has yet to be determined.
“I am the only one with a key, that has access to the building right now,” Brown said. “Nobody from an insurance company has called me to look at it.”
Brown said he spoke with Gilbert’s owners, the Bricolas family.
“They are distraught,” he said. “It is their livelihood.”
The owners did not respond to calls from The News for comment.
The blaze at the restaurant in the 22300 block of Harper Avenue, south of Nine Mile, was fought by fire personnel from St. Clair Shores, Eastpointe, Roseville and Warren.
Gilbert’s Lodge, known for its rustic “Up North” decor and log cabin exterior (complete with moose antlers over the entrance), once employed Marshall Mathers as a $6.50 an hour short order cook as he was establishing himself as rapper Slim Shady, now known as Eminem.
An anonymous caller contacted 911 about 4 a.m. to report seeing smoke at the restaurant, Brown said. Flames were through the roof of the restaurant when fire personnel arrived five minutes later.
There were no injuries. The restaurant’s interior was heavily damaged, but its exterior remained intact. Brown said the fire appears to be accidental.
Brown said the interior is damaged by smoke, heat and water. He believes the building could be saved.
“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.
Several of the restaurant staffers gathered on the street corner Thursday morning outside the establishment to console each other over the apparent loss of jobs.
“I wake up this morning and don’t have a job,” said Lynn Jaworski, 50, a server with Gilbert’s for the past 17 years.
Jaworski burst into tears after she pulled up to the parking lot in her Dodge Charger to greet her co-workers.
As the workers heard news of the fire, they called each other, said Lisa Smart, 28, a bartender.
“This is going to hurt a lot of people,” said Smart, who estimated Gilbert’s employed at least 50 people.
Staff Writer Ursula Watson contributed.