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

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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.

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