This was more than just a ribbon-cutting event.
It was a celebration of life.
Camelot Banquets in Hickory Hills was the site of a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday morning and owners and sisters Joanne Zegarski and Chris Janiski took time out to reflect how lucky they are to still be alive.
Hickory Hills’ police officer Ryan Bajt was a guest of honor and Zegarski proclaimed: “We wouldn’t be alive right now without him.’’
After last Mother’s Day’s near-tragic kitchen fire, Camelot opened for business again. The sisters performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the grand re-opening of the facility, located at 8624 W. 95th St., surrounded by family members, friends, city officials and guests.
Bajt, and his four-year-old son, Mitchell, were at the event. Bajt was credited for the rescue of the two sisters during the fire, knowing that the facility’s two owners frequently slept at the hall. When he arrived on the scene last May, he immediately began banging on the door to the office and was able to wake the owners and get them out.
On May 12, Hickory Hills firefighters responded to the burning banquet hall and several south suburban fire departments were called to the scene in Hickory Hills to battle the blaze, which began in the kitchen.
Hickory Hills’ City Alderman Thomas McAvoy referred to the Mother’s Day banquet fire to as “catastrophic”.
Seven events, including Mother’s Day gatherings and communions, had to be moved. The hall’s owners managed to accommodate all of the parties planned for that day. All of the events were moved to the Hickory Hills Country Club. During the time of relocating the events, the owners posted via Faceboook: “We are an honest and hardworking family who has lost everything in this fire that we have worked all our lives for. There are people who do not understand this. However, we will keep helping people in their time of need, because that’s who we are.”
Since then, Zegarski and Jasinski have been keeping in contact with faithful customers through online communication during the complete banquet hall remodel. With two elaborate freshly painted dining rooms with large chandeliers, it is difficult to believe a fire had broken out there.
“You have to see this place,” Hickory Hills’ Building Commissioner, John Moirano, said at Thursday’s City Council Meeting, “I believe it is the nicest banquet hall around now.”
“A lot of hard work went into the reopening,” Jasinski said, who was working until 1 a.m. preparing. “But, it was very much worth it.”
Zegarski and Jasinski also held a six-hour open house viewing of their new facility Sunday.
“It’s been very busy,” Jasinski said. “We’ve been continuing with construction pretty much up until [Friday]. But, now we’re finally ready to open our doors to the public.”
The banquet hall will still continue to serve groups as small as 30 guests to as large as 700 guests. This family-owned and operated business offers a unique specialty in European-style dinners. They offer package dinner pricing as well as catering packages.