GoFundMe created to help Sterling restaurant employees following fire

STERLING – Lisa’s Brick House is likely to be closed for the next 6 months after a fire on Oct. 14, and a GoFundMe fundraiser has been created to help its employees.

Sterling firefighters responded about 4:45 a.m. Oct. 14 to the bar and grill at 216 Locust St. where they found heavy smoke conditions in the bar area and quickly determined the fire to be located in the basement.

The fire was discovered when the cleaning woman arrived and opened a door only to be met with a wave of smoke. She subsequently called emergency 911, and no one was in the building at the time, according to Sterling Fire Chief Mike Dettman.

A water pipe later broke in the basement, which was where bar and restaurant supplies were stored.

The restaurant is owned by Lisa Escamilla, and it was she who announced that the damage would cause the business to close for about 6 months

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of the business and support you have always shown us, and thank you for all of the compassion and love you have shown, and continue to show, all of us right now as we navigate this devastating situation,” according to a Facebook post from the business. “We appreciate each and every one of you, and so it is with heavy hearts that we announce it will be approximately six months before we are able to reopen due to the damage incurred.”

A GoFundMe was created to benefit nine employees with the goal of raising $4,500. Go to to donate.

“This last year and half has been horrible on every mom-and-pop business and just when Lisa’s employees were in the recovery mode a fire changed all their plans,” said Karla Garza, who created the fundraiser. “With the last year or so being so rough and now the fire I ask anyone that can donate to the employees of Lisa’s Brick House to please do so. The loss of wages can never be made up and with the holidays fast approaching they can use all of the help they can get.”

Escamilla bought the former Champs Bar from her boss, Denny Strader, in January 2018. Strader had kept the upper portion of the building to turn it into Champs Banquet Venue while Escamilla did some remodeling of her own before opening her bar and grill.

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers

Rachel Rodgers joined Sauk Valley Media in 2016 covering local government in Dixon and Lee County.