Lola on the Lake to rebuild after suspected arson

Minneapolis Police Department Investigators from the MPD are seeking the help of the public in identifying two individuals in connection to the fire.

Lola’s Food Trucks set to open by Memorial Day weekend

The iconic pavilion that housed Black-owned Lola on the Lake is set to be torn down after suspected arson. A fire gutted the building at Bde Maka Ska on May 16, less than two weeks after the popular seafood and wings eatery had opened its doors for its second season.

The pavilion, which first opened in 1930, has been deemed unsalvageable by a structural engineer for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). Minneapolis Fire Department officials originally considered lightning to be the cause of the fire. However, the Minneapolis Police Department ruled out natural causes as a factor and released photos of two people suspected of starting the fire.

[SEE ALSO: King family takes Lola’s from snow cones to lakeside café]

 “First and foremost, we’re grateful no one was injured in the fire,” said Brad Bourn, park board president. “We’re all sad at the damage to the beautiful building, but park staff are working diligently to make sure that folks’ enjoyment of Bde Maka Ska is not interrupted.”

Lola owner Louis King is ready to rebuild and move on. He wasn’t deterred when an April blizzard pushed back the location’s launch last year, and he’s looking forward to similarly making the best of the current situation. For King, that includes setting up Lola’s Food Trucks by Memorial Day weekend to serve up summer fare.

Louis King holds sign that survived fire
Photo courtesy Facebook/Louis King

“We mourn the loss of the facility, but we are going to take care of our personnel and figure out how we can get back to business,” said King. “Lola’s and the MPRB will continue to be partners and make sure visitors enjoy fast, friendly service and great food that people visiting Bde Maka Ska have come to expect.”

The MPRB is also working with King to assist him with efforts to provide the trucks, which they deem a short-term solution until a new building can be constructed. Park staff are also bringing portable toilets to the busy area.

An insurance investigator will be on site to conduct a further assessment and investigation. Once the insurance work is complete, the building will be scheduled for demolition to eliminate any future public safety hazard and potential environmental impacts to the lake. In the meantime, the area around the building will remain fenced off and closed to the public.

According to MPRB Superintendent Al Bangoura, a timeline for the insurance work remains unknown. It is a fluid situation, and the MPRB appreciates the public’s patience and understanding.

“We are devastated by the loss of such an iconic feature along the lake. As difficult a decision as it is, removing the structure is the right thing to do and will allow us to rise out of this and begin moving forward,” said Bangoura.

View of burned down pavilion at Bde Maka Ska
Photo courtesy of Facebook/Connie Ungrue

He explained that early efforts were to secure the site with fencing and get silt barriers in place to prevent building char from the fire from entering the lake. The new fishing docks south of the building are still accessible to pedestrians, with the Bde Maka Ska boat launch reopening last Sunday and the Wheel Fun boat and bike rental building reopening Monday.

Bangoura and Bourn expressed their appreciation of the quick actions and decisions of the Minneapolis Fire Department, MPRB staff and Louis King.

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to call the MPD Arson Investigation Tip Line at 612-673-3070.

—Information provided by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board