Seven months after a fire forced owners to shut their doors, Casper's Cherokee Sirloin Room in Eagan was rocking once again Sunday. "I didn't expect it to be this big," says Brent Skarsten.
Skarsten and hundreds of others attended Casper's first opening since the building caught fire in October. Someone passing by at 6 a.m. that autumn Sunday reported the front deck of the building on fire with flames creeping inside.
"When I first pulled in, I didn't think we were going to be able to save it," recalls Eagan Fire chief Mike Scott.
Firefighters saved the building and FOX 9 cameras were inside with the owner just hours later. It was clear, water and smoke damage was everywhere. Firefighters later learned a cigarette butt put out into a flower pot on the outside deck was what started the blaze.
"You think back 7 months ago," says owner Rick Casper, "You don't think you are going to get to this day."
Casper has spent the past months replacing everything from light fixtures to plumbing. Before opening to the public, Casper wanted to thank the firefighters.
"He asked if he could give money back to the department and it was a very nice gesture.... but I told him we were just doing our jobs and it wasn't necessary," says Chief Scott.
Instead, Casper turned his opening event into a fundraiser. Proceeds from Sunday's event will help purchase new modern helmets for 100 volunteer firefighters. Casper admits he didn't even realize Eagan was a volunteer fire department until after they saved his business.
"It's just a small token we are able to give back -- because they were able to save our barn!" added an elated Casper.