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Fire And Ice Claim 50-Year-Old Mpls Pizzeria

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A steady spray of water from an aerial ladder truck kept flames at bay and the ice building overnight Thursday in south Minneapolis. Frigid winter temperatures and an old building created headaches for firefighters.

They were called to the building at 54th and Lyndale Avenue South around 5:50 p.m. Thursday, and have been at the scene ever since. The stubborn fire is fueled by inventory down in the basement, obscured by the collapsed rubble.

Until the flames are out fire investigators can't begin hunting for a cause.

"It's way too early to tell. If we can get inside, it's going to be a little more difficult...there's no burn patterns and other tell-tale signs that lead you to find out what the cause and origin is," said Minneapolis Fire Marshal, Perry Ebner.

The businesses housed in the building have been a vibrant part of the Kenny neighborhood for some 80 years. Bill Graham and his wife, Toni, own the building and operate Diamond Lake Rental.

It was two of their employees who first spotted trouble and alerted the adjacent occupants.

"They saw the smoke and got the guys from Beeks [Pizza] out of here real quick, so, at least, nobody was hurt," Bill Graham said.

Beeks Pizza opened its Minneapolis location in the building back in 1953. Ever since then the popular pizzeria has been developing a loyal following.

"Yea, it's tough to see this, but what do you do?" Graham said.

Rental vehicles at the business and several of the employees' cars were spared by the fire, but are no w encrusted in a thick layer of ice.

One person turned to using a rubber mallet to gently knock the ice off.

"This is a little faster than a scraper," Toni Graham said.

The fate of two neighborhood business is now sealed by fire and ice.

"Knock it down and start over, that's all we can do," Bill Graham said.

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