Wanted: A buyer to rebuild Dorset restaurants gutted by fire, as owner calls time


The owner of the four eateries in the Minnesota town which calls itself "The Restaurant Capital of the World" will not rebuild his businesses following a devastating fire.

Despite having just 22 inhabitants, healthy tourist numbers means the tiny town of Dorset, about 40 miles south of Bemidji, has been able to support four restaurants.

But the number was halved last September when fire destroyed Companeros and Dorset House, and the owner has said he will retire rather than re-build his businesses.

"After looking at all the options, with me being 65 and thinking of working my way out of managing full-time at Companeros in a few years or so, it seems that selling now might be the best," Rich Kempnich said on Facebook.

"I would like to most sincerely thank all of you for your continued support that allowed me to enjoy a great life of working with and serving the greatest people for the last 30 years," he added.

MPR reports that the town's two remaining restaurants will be expanding their menus to "take up the slack" when the Minnesota fishing opener gets underway on Mother's Day weekend.

A new coffee shop is also being set up in the town's bookstore, MPR notes.

Appeal for new owners

While Kempnich himself won't be re-opening the restaurants, he has expressed a desire to sell to someone who would return the site to its former glory.

He says he is willing to sell the land for a "very reasonable price" and that the new owner would be allowed to continue with the Companeros and Dorset House names, and he would be willing to help them get up and running.

"We will have the site leveled, filled and ready to build on soon after the ground thaws. We are saving part of the old basement for utilities and some dry storage, and could save the two north bathrooms (which would save a lot in rebuilding cost)," he said on Facebook.

Next Up

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2

Minnesota confirms America's 1st case of Brazil P.1 COVID strain

The strain was found in a Twin Cities metro resident who recently traveled to Brazil.


Gov. Walz announces education plan aimed at eliminating disparities

The plan covers seven categories, including closing the racial education gap and improving opportunities in rural Minnesota

Tax forms

Charges: Otsego cleaning business underreported sales

An Otsego woman is accused of owing more than $20,500 in sales tax, penalties and interest.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Walz gives vaccine providers 3-day, 7-day deadlines to use doses

Those that don't use their allocation will be given less in the future.


Border officers seize more than $550K in counterfeit designer goods

The shipments of fake goods were seized on Jan. 22.

Landfill plastic bags

4 Twin Cities landfills seek to expand capacity

This comes as the area's waste-to-energy facilities are operating at capacity.

Marcus Carr

3 of 10 finalists for NCAA's top point guard award have MN ties

Not a bad way to represent the State of... Basketball?

Justice, court

Minnesota grants unconditional pardon to grandmother facing deportation

Gov. Tim Walz says it's the first full pardon granted by the state in 35 years.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota changes vaccine appointment process, here's what to know

Walz also announced plans for a mass vaccination event at Xcel Energy Center.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 25

The latest figures from MDH have been released.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota health leaders say state's vaccine progress better than figures suggest

Minnesota is lagging behind national vaccination rates, but MDH leaders say this is because it's holding 2nd doses in reserve.