DORSET, Minn. - The town that jokingly refers to itself as the "restaurant capitol of the world" isn't laughing after two of its storied food stops burned to the ground early Thursday.
The Park Rapids Enterprise reports that both Dorset House Pizza and Companeros Mexican Restaurant were consumed by flames while their owners sat across the street fighting back tears, watching six local fire departments fight valiantly to try to save the wooden structures, both of which are more than 100-years-old.
Owners Rick and Laura Kempnich huddled across the street on a bench watching the buildings go one-by-one.
"We're just lost," said a tearful Laura Kempnich. "We don't know what to do."
The restaurants had just celebrated their 29th year in business and were looking forward to their 30th, Rick Kempnich said.
"My dad and I started them," he told the Enterprise. "Oh there are so many memories…"
Reports say the fires started around 4:18 a.m., about the same time a strong lightning storm was passing over the area, but fire officials can't yet confirm the cause of the blaze. Crews on the scene called for every available tanker truck but were still forced to scramble for water, sending some tankers to fill up at local lakes.
Residents of Dorset refer to their town as "restaurant capitol of the world" because they could brag about hosting four different food establishments in a town of just 22 people. That number is now cut in half.