Russ Kendall's Smokehouse begins cleanup after devastating fire

Categories: News
kendallfire.jpg
Via Russ Kendall's Smokehouse Facebook page
On Sunday morning, a fire ravaged Russ Kendall's Smokehouse, a celebrated North Shore restaurant along Highway 61 in Knife River.

The fire started near a water heater toward the back of the Smokehouse and worked its way through the production area. The bar and red storefront survived the fire, but faced severe smoke damage.

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"It's been a pretty devastating experience. When your whole family loses their jobs and you have all your eggs in one basket, you find out the downsides of a small family business," owner Gordy Olson says. "The whole family's in shock. We're just trying to get our bearings together and try to move about our life."

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Via Russ Kendall's Smokehouse Facebook page

The fire inspection took place on Thursday afternoon and the Olson family was given permission to begin cleanup. They hope to reopen the restaurant as soon as possible, even if it means borrowing ovens from competitors, Gordy Olson says.

"We're working on opening it back up," Olson says. "I don't know how to do anything else. The family's been in business here for over a century."

Russ Kendall's Smokehouse was a Knife River staple and its loss has devastated the community.

"People are making donations," Olson says. "At this point in time, we've been relying on that. It's been great to see the outpouring of both help with the cleaning and [finances]. As far as donations, it's been humbling, to say the least. I've been quite surprised at how wonderful people can be and it makes you feel better about humanity as a whole."

The Smokehouse got its start in the 1920s when W.T. Kendall, the grandfather of Olson's wife, started selling his fish alongside the road. His son Russ Kendall, Kristi Olson's father, eventually took over the establishment, which now bears his name. Kristi and Gordy Olson stepped in when Russ Kendall passed away in 2007.

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Andrew Zimmern featured Russ Kendall's Smokehouse on Bizarre Foods and included it in the number-one spot on his list of "12 Favorite Bites on the Road."

"I think the biggest thing for us is for people that [supported us] throughout the years to please not forget about us. We'll be back in business. Have patience, and we'll try to get back on our feet," Olson says.

The Olson family is currently accepting donations to help with the damages on Paypal.



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17 comments
mjnelson
mjnelson

Uh, it's not a restaurant.

Never was. At least not as far back as I can remember.

Robin  Compton-Padgett
Robin Compton-Padgett

they have no place to sell it, they retail part has a lot of smoke damage, but the clean up today is going to help them open sooner...

olso5751
olso5751

Here is a working paypal donation link. Donations can also be made to the Two Harbors Federal Credit Union under Russ Kendall's.
Thank you everyone for your donations. Every dollar makes a difference. We are working hard to get ourselves back up and rolling, but we can't do it without your support. Let's keep our heads up and work through this together.

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_donations&business=hayley.olson218%40gmail.com&lc=US&item_name=Russ+Kendall%27s+Smokehouse¤cy_code=USD&bn=PP-DonationsBF%3Abtn_donateCC_LG.gif%3ANonHosted 

Eric Paquette
Eric Paquette

This place is great! Awesome fish, I hope they get back to business ASAP.

Nick Hammer
Nick Hammer

I don't see a problem, it IS a smokehouse

Leah Bolfing
Leah Bolfing

Ate there last fall and had will visit again when they rebuild!

missthefish
missthefish

The PayPal donation link appears to be broken.

Clay Macartney
Clay Macartney

I guess someone wanted a bowl chili with a smoky flavor. Damn it. Why did I go there?

Joanie Reddy
Joanie Reddy

I know I heard the will still have fish though

Alisha M R Engel
Alisha M R Engel

Oh no I hope they are able to repair or rebuild! Joan Joanie Reddy where else will we get our smoked fish?

boomsticks420
boomsticks420

*please note this man has no brain or testicles

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