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After fire at Magnolias in St. Paul, community steps up: "They want to see us come back"

Community rallies to help Magnolias after fire damages St. Paul restaurant
Community rallies to help Magnolias after fire damages St. Paul restaurant 01:28

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Every few minutes, Magnolias Restaurant general manager Jessica Gerlach has to stop and tell customers the news.

"We had a pretty bad fire Monday night," Gerlach said to a customer approaching the restaurant Thursday. "So we'll be closed for a while."

St. Paul fire received the call of the fire just after 7:30 Monday night.

"It's part of a bigger family, more than anything and that's what I think been so devastating," said Gerlach. "As far as we know, it was an accident. It started in the kitchen. There were still hot spots the following day. It's pretty bad damage to the building itself."


Magnolias Restaurant has been a St. Paul comfort food staple for 40 years.

"I've worked here for 23 years and my mother has worked here my whole life," said Gerlach.

READ MORE: Fire damages 2 historic Main Street businesses in New Prague

Since the fire, there's been an outpouring of support.

"People outreaching, calling, stopping by," said Gerlach.

A post on the Magnolias Facebook page received hundreds of reactions.

"Everybody is very sad and heartbroken. They want to see us come back, they don't want to see us go," said Gerlach.

 An online fundraiser has been posted to support the 14 employees now without work.

"They all have families to take care of. We're all part of this community, we all live within St. Paul," said Gerlach.

They're now hoping to turn a negative into a positive, with the restaurant set to reopen. That is expected to happen in the next six months to a year from now.

"I think this is a horrendous thing, but it could turn out to be a great thing, be an all new Magnolias, back with the same people, same staff, same recipes, just even better," said Gerlach.

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