Empress Ale House survives trial by fire

The beloved Empress Ale House has been through some trials that we’re not going to get into here – but the latest was almost the last straw: a fire that gutted the building next door on the early morning of Thursday, April 7.

That the Empress only suffered “minor smoke damage” is occasion enough for the Thank God the Bar Didn’t Burn Down party this afternoon at 4. Area alt-country sweetheart Jody Shenkarek will take the stage with her band Fear and Worry. Admission is free.

Empress co-owner Sue Kiernan was on site about an hour after the fire started at 3:30 a.m. Firefighters were quick to contain the blaze.

“The whole building at that point was completely engulfed in flames. It looked scary to me. I thought our little bar was going to get it. But we’re fine. We keep going. We’re the little bar that could.”

The fire caused an estimated $1.5 million in damages and displaced six businesses, including the Langano Skies Ethiopian restaurant. The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.