Longtime Shawano restaurant a total loss after fire


SHAWANO – No one was hurt after a fire broke out at a longtime Shawano restaurant early Tuesday morning.

For 34 years, Anello’s Torch Lite restaurant has offered up people Italian-American fare. In the 20s, the location was reportedly a favorite of gangsters Al Capone and John Dillinger. But now, all that is left is a pile of burned out rubble. Officials say the building is a total loss.

"It's really a part of our family," said Anello’s owner Rita Mondus. "It's fine, this can all be rebuilt."

Mondus says the restaurant fell into her and her husband John's hands at the right time in the early 1980s. But at around 1:30 a.m., their dream began to unravel.

That’s when she says she smelled smoke. With a petting zoo in the back, complete with Humphrey the camel, Mondus’ worry quickly turned to the animals.

"Why is it so foggy outside? The animals were all fine and looked over at the restaurant and smoke is billowing out of the roof,” Mondus said. "Stunned, just stunned and shocked."

Shawano and Bonduel Area Fire Departments battled the smoke and flames in the bitter cold through the dark. By sunrise, much of the building was opened up by the fire.

Some of the roof was still on, so they brought the back hoe in to take down some of the stuff that was burning on the other side," said Shawano Area Fire Dept. Capt. Jeff Zimmerman.

Single digit temperatures didn't help matters. Firefighters rotated in and out of trucks to keep warm and water hoses were kept open to keep equipment from freezing up.

As firefighters worked to clear remaining hotspots in the rubble late Tuesday morning, Zimmerman says it will likely take some time to determine a cause, because of the weather and the amount of water used on the fire.

"Because everything is frozen down now and will have to wait until that thaws out so we can get in there and at least look and see what we can find out where the fire started and determine a cause," Zimmerman said.

Mondus says she, her husband, and the animals are all okay. She says Anello's could be rebuilt, but it's still too early to say.

"When something like this happens, you're kind of numb, you want to cry, you want to be thankful, you just don't know where to go," said Mondus, crying. "Obviously I'm not a spring chicken to start all over, but we'll just see where it goes from here."

About a dozen people are now without jobs because of the fire.

According to property tax records, the restaurant and land was valued at more than $585,000.