Popular, decades-old Eveleth drive-in burns to the ground

There's some bad news for fans of Eveleth's popular Wee-Z's K&B Drive-In, which burned down on Sunday.
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There's some bad news for fans of Eveleth's popular Wee-Z's K&B Drive-In, which burned down on Sunday.

Several fire departments, including those in Eveleth, Fayal, Gilbert and Central Lakes, were called to the scene at 7 a.m. Sunday, with the Eveleth Fire Department posting on Facebook that "we did the best we could, but the building was a total loss."

The eatery off Highway 53 – known for its burgers, fries, root beer, pasties and barbecue – underwent a facelift last year that saw its name changed to "Smokey's BBQ and Cafe."

It didn't last long, with the Duluth News Tribune reporting it was taken over by current owner Patrick Ziegler in May and renamed Wee-Z's K&B.

The eatery first opened as the "R&J Drive-in" in 1956 under the stewardship of Ron and Jule Erjavec, who ran the place for 30 years before selling it, according to the Mesabi Daily News.

Erjavec was among those devastated by the fire, and joined the many former diners reminiscing on Sunday.

The 82-year-old told KBJR that he shook his head as he was being told about the fire, saying: "I feel bad. I drive by every day and you can't see something like this happen. It's terrible."

"We used to sell hamburger for 19 cents and a root beer for 5 cents," he added. "I picked that piece of property because I figured it was a well location and a good spot."

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