YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Youngstown Fire Investigator Kurt Wright said arson is suspected in a fire at a former Youngstown restaurant on Market Street.

The fire started Thursday night at the building that once housed the Colonial House restaurant, which has been closed for years. It was once part of the area’s premier restaurants.

Wright said the building has been vacant for many years, but it was reportedly undergoing renovations for the past three to four years.

According to Tom Welsh, author of “Classic Restaurants of Youngstown,” the Colonial House opened in 1949 and marked the rise of the Uptown District as an entertainment destination. It gave downtown restaurants like the Mural Room a run for their money, and by the early 1960s, the Colonial house was joined by other high-end restaurants like the Mansion and Cicero’s. It became a hangout for business and political leaders, and at various times, developers Edward DeBartolo and William Cafaro held luncheons there.

Over the years, the restaurant had multiple owners. Between 1971 and 1982, it was owned and operated by Paul and Bertram Lyden, who turned the restaurant into a popular St. Patrick’s Day destination.

The Colonial House closed its doors in 1995 due to a steep decline in its customer base.

Anyone with information on the fire may call 330-782-0055 or Crime Stoppers at 330-746-CLUE.

Kristen Hephner contributed to this report.

Colonial House restaurant fire in Youngstown