On her way into work Wednesday morning, Minette Juhl Miller got a phone call no business owner wants to receive. Her restaurant, Minetties Roadside Diner, 6737 Minnesota Highway 210 in Wright, was on fire.
Her son, Arthur Juhl, who lives in the trailer behind the diner, had gone in to mop the restaurant around 4:30 a.m. He finished the chore, then returned home. Back at his residence, the power went out, so he looked out the window to see if the yard light was still on. That’s when Juhl noticed flames outside the restaurant.
The fire destroyed the building, Cromwell-Wright Fire Chief Lucas Goodin said. The cause of fire is still under investigation.
No employees were in the building at the time of the fire, though one firefighter walked away with minor injuries from a roof collapse. The person was treated at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet.
About 25 firefighters from four fire departments responded to the scene, Goodin said. The crews included Cromwell-Wright Fire and Ambulance, Barnum Volunteer Fire Department, Mahtowa Fire Department and Kettle River Volunteer Fire Department.
Due to the extreme cold, Goodin said the crews had trouble keeping water from freezing in the trucks.
“Even their gloves were frozen on their hands,” Juhl Miller said. “It was a mess. It was horrible for everybody involved.”
So she and her staff made sure to bring some warmth to the crews.
“Minette’s staff, while dealing with all of this, were the first to go to the local gas station and get breakfast sandwiches and hot coffee and other hot beverages right away,” Goodin said.
Fire crews continue to check the site periodically for areas still smoldering underneath piles of rubble, Goodin said.
As far as the future goes for Wright’s only restaurant, the diner that employed six is closed for the time being, but Juhl Miller said she plans to rebuild.
“As soon as we can break ground and pour a slab, we're going to start,” she said.
In the meantime, customers who relied on breakfast at Minettie’s Roadside Diner will soon be able to get their first meal of the day at Juhl Miller’s other business, Village Pump Saloon in Tamarack, which serves lunch and dinner.
“Hopefully, by next week we will be ready and set to go,” Juhl Miller said.
The building was built in 1978 and has been named Minetties since Juhl Miller opened it in August 2015.