Restaurant destroyed by fire in Fairfield last year to open this month after total rebuild

It will be almost a year, but the Fairfield Skyline Chili that was destroyed by fire last year will soon be dishing out cheese coneys and all the ways it serves its famous Cincinnati-style chili.

On the day the fire struck, owner Dennis Kurlas promised he would rebuild the popular restaurant that caught fire at around 2:30 a.m. on Sept. 26, 2018.

An attic fan sparked a fire at the Skyline at the corner of Hicks Boulevard and Dixie Highway. The extensive damage forced the Kurlas family, owners of the Fairfield store and the Main Street Skyline in Hamilton, to tear it down and rebuild.

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But the rebuilding process has been “a lot of fun,” said Kurlas, who owns the restaurant with his wife, Robin. The Kurlas family was recognized in 2017 by Skyline for 50 years with the Cincinnati chili company.

“With the team that we have — the contractor, all the vendors involved and our employees — it’s been a lot of fun doing this,” said Kurlas.

The Skyline will open on Sept. 23 with about 50 part-time and full-time employees, many of whom worked at the Hicks Boulevard restaurant before it was destroyed.

“We have a lot of employees coming back,” said Kurlas. “The ones that aren’t coming back have gone on to school or college. We’ve got our key players coming back. We placed them in other stores right after the fire. We had everybody working at other restaurants. That was our priority.”

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Six Fairfield fire crews were dispatched at 2:25 a.m. Sept. 26, 2018, according to the fire report. A minute later five more crews — four from Hamilton and one from Fairfield Twp. — were dispatched. In all 13 pieces of equipment were on scene with 33 people involved in battling the fire.

Flames were shooting through the roof and “all units were ordered to stay out of the building,” according to the fire report. It took firefighters more than two hours to extinguish the blaze, which resulted in a collapsed roof over the kitchen area.

The new restaurant is the same 2,500-square-foot footprint as it was before, “and everything else is different,” Kurlas said. The layout, the look and the technology will all be new customer experiences, he said.

The Kurlas family had owned a Skyline restaurant on Hicks Boulevard, but more than two decades ago the family moved to 1190 Hicks Boulevard, which Kurlas described it as just “a shell of a building.”

“Now we designed this how we wanted it,” he said. “We were able to use our imagination, our creativity to bring this thing up better than we had before.”

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Kurlas said his family will have a couple of pre-opening events. One will be on Sept. 19 where they’ll provide a meal to the first responders in Fairfield, Fairfield Twp. and Hamilton that responded to the 2018 fire.

“We’re trying to give back to the people that gave to us, especially those firefighters,” he said.

The other event is on Sept. 21, where from noon to 8 p.m., the restaurant will be open for a Joe Nuxhall Miracle League fundraiser. The charity will receive 50 percent of the day’s proceeds.


• Thursday, Sept. 19: provide a meal for the first-responders in Fairfield, Fairfield Twp. and Hamilton that responded to the early morning 2018 fire.

• Saturday, Sept. 21: Noon to 8 p.m. fundraiser for the Joe Nuxhall Miracle League Field with 50 percent of the day's sale going to the charity.

• Monday, Sept. 23: Skyline re-opens for business.

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