Pipe burst leads to popular Park Ridge barbeque restaurant’s closure


PARK RIDGE, Ill. — It’s been a big year for Mel Thillens, who just opened his restaurant, Mel’s Craft BBQ, in Park Ridge.  

The eatery opened on May 1 and Thillens said things have been going well. But on Christmas morning, Santa delivered the kind of gift that nobody wanted and one that didn’t come with a gift receipt.  

“Christmas morning, we came in and saw rain coming through the ceiling, big, pouring rain in the front of the restaurant, apparently from pipes that burst in the apartment above us,” Thillens said.

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The frigid temperatures caused the break but nobody was aware because the upstairs tenant wasn’t home.  

A pipe burst has caused a temporary closure at Mel’s Craft BBQ in Park Ridge.  

“She was staying with family because it was Christmas,” Thillens said.  

With an unwanted indoor lake, Thillens called the cleanup an all-hands-on-deck approach. 

“Luckily, the landlord helped. He brought his family. I had my kids here, so we got a couple of shop vacs and got it going,” he said. 

Friends also did what they could to help dry things out.    

“A friend of mine had a big dehumidifier. He gave us some fans, so hopefully, that will dry it all out,” Thillens said.   

 But this is far from the only pipe problem across the area, stretching plumbers very thin.  

“Unfortunately, it’s tough to get someone with Christmas Day and [Monday] is technically a holiday so getting the insurance adjustor and plumbers on the phone is hard to do,” Thillens said. “We are stuck in the water for a little bit.” 

 So right now, it’s unclear when things will be cooking again at Mel’s.   

 “We are going to be closed for a bit,” Thillens said. “Hoping to get open Wednesday but we won’t know until we hear from some people [on Tuesday].” 

Plumber Josh Primack with GreenTech Plumbing told WGN News he’s been busy.

“I woke up to a phone call, about nine pipe burst under a sink. I went out and fixed that,” he said. “Then, went to another house with multiple leaks.

“Then went to a house that had a battery backup system beeping because the discharge froze for that.”

WGN News asked if Primack could squeeze in a visit at Mel’s. Time permitting, Primack said he would try but his day was packed and far from over.

“Got a couple more calls after this,” Primack said.

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