A veritable Pikesville culinary institution for nearly four decades, Jilly’s Bar & Grill partially collapsed in a three-alarm fire on Oct. 28.
According to Baltimore County Police, Pikesville resident David Michael McDermott was charged with second-degree arson in connection with the fire.
On Oct. 27, McDermott, 40, was issued a no-trespass order at Jilly’s and made statements that he would return to the eatery, according to detectives. Investigators said they believe the suspect started the fire by lighting four outdoor heaters and knocking them against the sidewall of the establishment.
Officers familiar with McDermott noticed him walking around the crime scene, and he was arrested on Hawthorne Avenue, the Pikesville street on which he lives.
He is currently being held by authorities, pending a bail review.
At 3:55 a.m. on Oct. 28, a passerby alerted firefighters of the Pikesville Volunteer Fire Company and the Baltimore County Fire Department about a blaze at Jilly’s, located at 1012 Reisterstown Rd. in downtown Pikesville. Firefighters found the popular eatery and sports bar engulfed in flames, with thick smoke and fog enveloping the area.
The fire was upgraded to a three-alarm fire with a partial building collapse by 5:15 a.m.
Baltimore City Fire Department crews also came to the scene to assist.
No one was inside the restaurant at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported. Firefighters contained the blaze to the Jilly’s property, although there is significant smoke and water damage on the premises.
More than 75 firefighters were on the scene, and Reisterstown Road between Church Lane and Hawthorne Avenue was closed for several hours.
On Facebook, Del. Lisa M. Belcastro (D-11th) wrote, “Thank you to the Baltimore County Fire Department for responding to the scene early this morning. Thankfully, there were no injuries reported. Jilly’s is a mainstay of the Pikesville community. This will be sad news to many.”
Jilly’s is owned by Scott Reich and his family. Scott Reich’s father, Wil Reich, owns the nearby Pikes Cinema Bar and Grill at 921 Reisterstown Rd.
“Jilly’s has served as an anchor of the Reisterstown Road commercial corridor for years. This is absolutely devastating news,” wrote Baltimore County Councilman Israel “Izzy” Patoka (D-2nd) on Facebook. “My heart goes out to owners Scott and Kathie Reich. They represent the very best of Pikesville and the hospitality industry.”
In a statement on Facebook, Scott and Kathie Reich wrote, “Our building is gone, and at the moment [we] have no other information to offer. … We will be closed until further notice. As more information comes to light, and plans are discussed and determined, we will post and keep all of you up to date.
“At this time, we’d like to thank everyone for their kind words, prayers, and support. We would especially like to thank the members of Baltimore County Fire Department, and BCoPD, for their hard work and efforts. We cannot appreciate you more in the work you’ve done thus far. Please keep our employees in your thoughts as we navigate this new obstacle 2020 has thrown our way.”
Beth Snyder Rheingold, president of the Pikesville-Owings Mills Regional Chamber of Commerce, called Jilly’s a “Pikesville staple. People come to Pikesville just to kick back at the bar and grill. The owners have worked so hard during the pandemic to provide the community with a safe place to dine.
“This is a real blow to Pikesville, and our thoughts are with Scott and his family,” she said. “As a chamber, we will support Jilly’s through this tough time.”
Originally known as Rodger’s Taproom in the 1960s and ’70s, Jilly’s opened in February of 1984 and was renamed in honor of Wil Reich’s wife, Jill.
The restaurant and bar is known for its laid-back, friendly atmosphere, local flavor and characters, and burgers, seafood and ribs, as well as beer choices and entertainment. Rob Fahey, best known as lead singer of the band The Ravyns and their early ’80s hit “Raised on the Radio,” performed at Jilly’s last Saturday night, Oct. 24.
Jilly’s also is a popular destination for watching televised games and enjoying family milestones and celebrations.
In July of 2009, a three-alarm fire gutted the popular Suburban House restaurant at 911 Reisterstown Rd., only a couple of blocks south of Jilly’s, and precipitated its relocation to 1700 Reisterstown Rd. Suburban House closed in December of 2017 after nearly eight decades in business.
Longtime Pikesville resident Linda Silverman said she was stunned by the news of the fire at Jilly’s.
“I’m very upset. It was my dad’s [Jerry Silverman] favorite place to go, and he’ll be 86 next month,” she said. “Great food always, friendly people, great service. My kids loved eating there, too. I always took them there since they were 5 years old. It’s very upsetting.”
A GoFundMe page was recently created to help support employees of Jilly’s. For information, visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/funding-for-employees?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1&fbclid=IwAR30NIATaDYbPndUOTHMtmWVadlnvziMLGq8EC6AFnWtg-o1e1gKrrXR_xw