Baker’s Ribs, which has served up “real Texas BBQ” in Eden Prairie for over 30 years, is temporarily closed following a fire last weekend.
The fire, which damaged the barbecue restaurant’s custom-built smoker pit, will keep the restaurant at 8019 Glen Lane closed for an estimated four to six weeks while owner Al Killion attempts to find a new pit.
“Nothing was damaged (in the restaurant) except for the pit, but the pit is what we cook with, and I’m now trying to source a pit similar to the one I had,” Killion said on Friday.
He credited the pit for preventing the fire from spreading further.
“It got out of control, and the pit did what it was supposed to do,” Killion said. “It contained the fire, but in the process, it warped, split some seams, and it’s no longer usable in a restaurant setting.”
He said the blaze occurred after hours, sometime overnight between Saturday, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov. 25. The pit, he explained, runs at night to cook meat. Baker’s Ribs is closed on Sundays and Mondays, but a monthly pit cleaning was scheduled for that Sunday morning.
“The gentleman who came in to do the work called me and told me what happened,” said Killion, who noted that the restaurant’s fire alarm system never triggered despite being inspected a couple of weeks before the fire.
Killion has used the same smoker pit since he opened Baker’s Ribs. The pit received approval from NSF International, a nonprofit organization that certifies and tests products to ensure safety and sanitation standards.
“The gentleman who built it went through all kinds of hoops to get it NSF-approved to be used in a restaurant up here,” Killion said, “and those people are no longer around. There are not many NSF pits comparable to the one I have.”
Despite these challenges, Killion remains optimistic about the future. “We’ll get through this, and we’ll open back up,” he said. “I’m going to cook barbecue for at least five more years.”
The community has rallied in support after the restaurant’s closure following the fire.
“I’ve had regular customers calling me to make sure everybody was OK and then getting to the bottom line: they wanted to know when we’re going to be open again,” Killion said. “It’s good to hear people calling and being concerned.”
Baker’s Ribs encourages patrons to check for updates on its reopening. For weekly status updates, people can call 952-942-5337, as provided on the restaurant’s website.
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