palmer lake

O'Malley's Pub Jeff Hulsmann poses in his Palmer Lake restaurant Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. (Christian Murdock/The Gazette)

A fire tore through the kitchen of O’Malley’s Steak Pub on Tuesday — damaging the popular Palmer Lake pub and leaving its doors closed for only the second time in about 35 years.

The blaze began shortly before noon Tuesday, and it appeared to center around a hood vent over a stove, Capt. Weston Oesterreich of the Palmer Lake Fire Department said.

The exact cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Most damage was confined to the kitchen, while the surrounding pub sustained only smoke damage, said Jeff Hulsmann, the owner of O’Malley’s.

The pub, at 104 Colorado 105, is a well-known watering hole for the northern El Paso County town, across the street from Palmer Lake and known for its large deck and expansive views.

O’Malley’s has only closed one other day — during the infamous 1997 October blizzard that shut down much of the Pikes Peak region, Hulsmann said.

He vowed to reopen quickly, though he had no timetable for the repairs.

“We definitely have a plan to be reopened as soon as possible,” Hulsmann said.

Terri Hayes, president and CEO of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said the pub’s reputation and stature in the community is unparalleled, and she wished it a speedy return.

“It’s truly an iconic restaurant,” Hayes said. “And I’m very happy that the fire was limited to just a portion of the kitchen, and that it will be repaired and reopen.

“They have a wonderful big deck, you overlook Palmer Lake, and it’s just a really popular and fun place to be.”

Firefighters from the Tri-Lakes, Wescott and Black Forest fire department also responded to help extinguish the blaze.

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