The owners of are using the disastrous fire that damaged the restaurant last fall as an opportunity to improve their business, which is just over the Burnsville border with Eagan.
Last October, an intense fire severely damaged the restaurant's lower deck, upper deck and bar area. The heat from the fire was so powerful that siding and windows melted and cracked on a neighboring building.
Inside Casper’s, the sprinkler system prevented fire damage, although water and smoke damage did occur.
The Eagan Fire Department was dispatched shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 9, after receiving a report that the restaurant’s two-story deck was on fire. The fire was caused when flowerpots on the deck where used as ashtrays. Although no one was injured in the blaze, the fire was "devastating" for Casper's, according to restaurant co-owner and co-founder Rick Casper.
“Unfortunately, it caused a lot of damage,” said Eagan Fire Chief Mike Scott.
But Casper has a reason to be optimistic. He is not only repairing the restaurant, he is renovating it. After several months of insurance assessment, development began Feb. 13. The restaurant, which has been closed since the fire, will reopen May 7 under the revised name "Casper’s: Cherokee Eagan".
The owners are rebuilding the restaurant with an open layout that emphasizes the high barn ceiling. Instead of the previous two-story deck, a cement patio will be installed in its place.
The décor will pay tribute to Eagan’s historic legacy as the nation’s onion capital, and will incorporate local memorabilia and pictures.
Casper is revamping the menu as well. While the new menu will still include the Cherokee classics, there will be more items available for under $10. Instead of the restaurant’s traditional Sunday brunch buffet, Casper’s will introduce a weekend breakfast, which will take place every Saturday and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Casper’s plans to hire a staff of 80-100 people in early April, including waiters and kitchen workers.
To thank the Eagan Fire Department for saving the restaurant, Casper plans to host a benefit prior to opening to raise funds for new helmets for the department.