Gilbert Bar Owner Accused of Starting Fire

By KBJR News 1

June 21, 2011 Updated Jun 21, 2011 at 10:21 PM CDT

GILBERT, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)--The owner of an Iron Range bar that went up in flames last week made his first appearance in court today.

He's accused of starting the fire.

The owner of the Risky Business Bar in Gilbert, 39–year old James Millis faces two counts of felony arson in the 1st degree in connection with his bar fire.

"It's really sad to see it go because it was taking off and there was a lot in store for it. I really think there was," said Aimee Imbes, a Gilbert resident.

Patrons attribute the recent success of the bar to its manager Bryan Schanlaub, who many refer to as Schunny.

Starting as a bartender, Schunny quickly advanced into a managerial position.

"I'm a firm believer that you can't just expect people to come to your bar. You have to get out and get them. So I would sponsor any...If there was softball tournament, I'd enter two teams. You know, just made Risky known," said Schunny.

Schunny says he agreed in a verbal contract with Millis to obtain the title deed for the bar once the new year came.

In the two months leading up to the fire, Schunny says he had been responsible for the bills, insurance and liquor license.

"We officially didn't sign no paperwork, till after the new year, to eliminate more paper work I guess," he said.

According to criminal complaint record of Millis, the state fire marshals office concluded the cause of fire was intentional.

Records indicate the person responsible likely opened a hole in the wall of the storage room, put ignitable liquid into the wall cavity and then ignited the liquid on fire.

"I just don't know how it goes, with what happens to the land, the property. I guess I'm just waiting, waiting it out," said Schunny.

Patrons are also playing waiting game.

Tuesday's arraignment was rescheduled for July 6th because Millis did not have his private lawyer to represent him in court.

Millis remains in St. Louis County jail on $100,000 bail.

The bar is considered a total loss.

Posted to the web: Jennifer Walch
jwalch@northlandsnewscenter.com