Lola on Bde Maka Ska severely damaged by fire

Lola on the Lake was destroyed by a fire in the predawn hours of May 16. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

The Bde Maka Ska pavilion housing Lola on the Lake erupted into flames the morning of May 16, less than a month after the restaurant opened for its second season.

The fire started shortly after 4 a.m. during a lightning storm, but the cause of the blaze is still officially under investigation. By the time firefighters were able to control the flames, the concrete building’s metal roof had collapsed.

No one was injured in the blaze, according to the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Lola owner Louis King said he presumes a lightning strike started the fire.

“We got no fire alarm, which means whatever happened was pretty violent,” he said.

Flames engulfed the building shortly after 4 a.m. on May 16, according to the Minneapolis Fire Department. No one was injured in the fire, which firefighters battled to get under control for just over an hour; MFD reported the fire was under control around 5:30 a.m.

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board Superintendent Al Bangoura, who was at the scene Thursday morning, said he was grateful no one was hurt.

“The building is a building,” Bangoura said.

The MPRB operations staff planned to have a meeting Thursday morning to determine their course of action and establish how to protect the lake from any runoff from the fire. Some tree limbs near the pavilion also caught fire and were still smoldering at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, and may need to be treated by arborists.

The MPRB will look to rebuild or restore the structure.

A fire severely damaged Lola on the Lake on the shores of Bde Maka Ska early Thursday morning. Photo by Andrew Hazzard.
A fire severely damaged Lola on the Lake on the shores of Bde Maka Ska early Thursday morning. Photo by Andrew Hazzard

“It’s going to be beautiful and better than ever,” Bangoura said.

Lola had just reopened for its second season operating the restaurant at the lakeside pavilion.

“It was just starting to get good,” Jeffrey Fortson, who is affiliated with Lola’s, said outside the smoldering building Thursday morning.

Sen. Scott Dibble (District 61) lives two blocks from the lake, on James Avenue, and said he was woken up in the middle of the night by smoke coming from Lola, where he had dined on vegetarian tacos the night before the blaze.

“We thought our place was on fire,” he said. “It was crazy. We saw the flames and saw the sparks.”

While the cause of the fire remains under investigation, Fortson said the areas of significant damage indicate lightning sparked the flames.

“The place with the least amount of damage is the kitchen,” he said.

King said that until the pavilion can be rebuilt, he plans to open food trucks with a simplified menu in order to “put my people to work.”

“I’m concerned about my staff,” he said. “This is their livelihood. This is how you make your living, pay your bills and feed your family.”

King added: “The people love the walleye tacos.”

Flames engulfed the building shortly after 4 a.m. on May 16. Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Fire Department
Flames engulfed the building shortly after 4 a.m. on May 16. Photo courtesy of Minneapolis Fire Department

Zac Farber contributed reporting to this story.

  • JDO1947

    Self-insured was good when you had a bunch of officials who knew what they were doing and were not pursuing elusive and expensive social agendas. They took care of the taxpayers, rightfully so. You know who’s going to pick up this bill.

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