Russ Kendall's Smokehouse back open in time for Grandma's Marathon weekend

By KBJR News 1

June 22, 2014 Updated Jun 22, 2014 at 11:06 PM CDT

Knife River, MN (NNCNOW.com) - That smell of smoke is back at Russ Kendall's Smokehouse along Scenic Highway 61, in Knife River.

But rather than fire, this time it's that same smoked smell that has attracted countless people to the destination for decades.

Fresh –smoked fish has once again filled the glass counters in the smokehouse's storefront--essentially the only place not seriously impacted or destroyed by a fire May 11th.

During the fire, co–owner Gordon Olson says everything from the store's living quarters, to the building's meat processing room where the fire started, was destroyed by smoke, fire, and water.

Olson said he had serious doubts about the recovery process, and feared he would lose his customer base.

But with the help of licensed friends in the smoked fish business who've let them process their fish during repairs, Olson says they were able to meet their goal of re–opening by Grandma's Marathon weekend.

"We're back up, and we're running. I know we've got a long ways ahead of us, and a lot of things to come and get completed, but we got the door swinging again and it just feels great to be just normal," said Olson from behind the counter, "to do my normal routine again, and for my whole family."

Olson says they still plan on rebuilding what they've lost, and renovating what was damaged, including their bar.

Billy Wagness