Overnight Fire Destroys Popular St. Paul Burger Joint

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — An early morning fire destroyed a popular St. Paul bar and restaurant. The fire started around 3:30 a.m. in the kitchen at The Nook located on Hamline Avenue, across the street from Cretin-Derham Hall High School.

“At four o’clock in the morning, we heard it second-hand from our landlord,” said co-owner Mike Runyon.

“Yeah, it’s hard. It’s a tough day,” said Ted Casper, the other half of the ownership team. “It affects a lot of people other than just me and Mike.”

The Nook has been around since 1938. Runyon and Casper, whose fathers are best friends, were only 20 years old when they bought The Nook back in 2000.

“It was a lot of fun and a lot of butterflies back then, and we were able to make it work,” said Casper, who grew up in the restaurant business.

Since Casper and Runyon took over, The Nook has become known as a great place for burgers. Their specialty was the Juicy Nookie, a burger stuffed with cheese.

The Nook was even featured on the Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.

“Wow, that’s a ton of flavor,” said host Guy Fieri as he bit into one of the Nook’s burger.

On Tuesday, hungry people arrived at The Nook expecting to eat some of the famous burgers. Instead of ordering a Juicy Nookie, they saw a condemnation notice on the door.

Mariah Howe came from Owatonna to celebrate her 17th birthday at the Nook.  Her sister, a University of Minnesota student, vouched for the place.

“We’re like, ‘Megan, what’s a good place in the cities that we can come have lunch with you?'” said Howe. “And she goes, ‘There’s this great burger joint that’s like famous around St. Paul called The Nook, come up here and you’ll just like it.'”

The owners plan to rebuild The Nook and open again at Randolph and Hamline Avenues.

“We won’t quit. We’ll fix it, but it’s just, we have to start all over,” said Runyon.  “Just another story in the long life of The Nook, I guess.”

No word on the cause of the fire yet, although the owners believe it may have been an electrical problem.

Until they rebuild, Runyon and Casper hope to find hours for their employees at their other restaurant, Shamrocks. The pair also owns the Ran Ham Bowling alley next door. They expect to air it out and re-open in a couple days.

Paula Engelking, Producer
Contact Paula

WCCO-TV’s Amelia Santaniello Reports

  • Nooky

    I’ll take my Nook Burger EXTRA Well Done……….

    • Nancy

      Nooky, seriously????? what a compassionate and charming person you must be… NOT….

  • http://mancuisine.wordpress.com/2010/12/14/ode-to-the-nookie-supreme-and-other-greasy-burgers/ Ode to the Nookie Supreme (and other greasy burgers) « Man Cuisine
  • Christina B.

    RE-BUILD, RE-BUILD!! Great opportunity to re-build and expand the best burger joint in this state!!

  • NookAddict

    Wow…just ate there last week. Best Juicy Lucy’s in town baby…REBUILD!!

  • Nooky Defender

    Wow Nancy, take a joke.

  • Eric

    “Tom Casper and Mike Runyon have owned The Nook since 2000 and in 2006 they purchased the adjacent Shamrocks to offer more dining space.”

    FYI: It’s Ted Casper. Shamrocks isn’t adjacent. It’s more than a mile away on West 7th. The adjacent business is RanHam Bowling Alley in the basement.

  • stacy

    Yah they got the story a bit wrong. At least us locals know the real deal and can correct them. ha ha
    I’ll be at Shamrocks while we wait for the rebuild..

  • TinHL

    So ripping off Matt’s Bar and the Juicy Lucy is Nooks claim to fame? Try something else, go to chef school maybe.

  • LightenUp

    Like anyone has a copyright on “Juicy Lucy.” That has been around since the invention of the name Lucy.

  • Minnesota

    OMG NO !! Not the nooky so many good times just gone!! I had so many good times there good food, good booze oh why does this have to happen? please rebuild please please oh sweet lord please rebuild!!!

  • Mike B.

    A terrible loss. Especially for a couple of great guys. I’m glad no one was hurt. We have shared many a great time at the Nook. I know it will be rebuilt up with the same warmth and character as before. See you soon at the Shamrock!

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  • Paul

    The Nook hasn’t been any good since the days of Mickey & Bill . . . .

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