On July 20, the Bison Turf tweeted, “It’s so hot we are running our Friday drink specials on Mug Night!”
It got hotter two days later when a fire destroyed parts of the building, especially the upper levels. Firefighters fought to contain the smoke and flames in 90-degree temperatures that Friday afternoon.
The blaze “was likely caused by repair work that was conducted earlier that day,” Ryan Erickson, Fargo’s fire marshal, wrote in a press release.
Owner Pete Sabo said he thinks it began from an exhaust fan, noting he had electricians working on wiring.
While nobody was physically injured, many students didn’t take the news well.
After an outpouring of grief on social media, the North Dakota State Counseling Center posted on its platforms that it would help those struggling with the loss.
“The Turf was a gathering place for the whole NDSU family. If u need to talk about its loss or anything else in life call us!” the support crew tweeted.
Meaghan Tobin, a recent NDSU graduate and self-proclaimed Turf Queen, said the bar was an integral part of most of her collegiate experience. She first went there on her 21st birthday.
“I got kicked out at midnight,” she said.
Kyle Knutson turned 21 the Monday before the bar burned down. He said he celebrated his first Mug Night on Wednesday in the crowded and warm bar.
“We were sitting next to the off-sale coolers and got excited when anyone opened them because it created a breeze to cool us off,” he said. Knutson and a group of friends stopped in the night before the fire, too.
Sabo said students have not been the only ones offering support since the fire.
“We’ve received tons, tons and tons of support from the community,” he said.
The City of Fargo hasn’t been so keen.
With inspectors claiming the building was over half destroyed in the blaze, city officials told Sabo to demolish the bar. Sabo said the lower level of the old building caused the bar to be designated as “dangerous.”
The owner said his architects and engineers have determined the bar can be rebuilt, and that he expects the community to come out and support the bar when it reopens.
After initially planning to reopen at the start of October, Sabo said city officials told him he needed to rezone his parking if he plans to add a rooftop bar and 30-by-50-foot patio to the building.
This pushes the reopen date into November, Sabo said.
Much of the lower level will stay the same, he said, adding the bar, stools and benches were all recovered from the fire.
Until then, nearby bars have begun offering more deals in the wake of the Turf’s absence.
Herd and Horns started a Mug Night of its own on Wednesday nights. Chub’s Pub has been filling Turf mugs both on Mondays and Wednesdays nights, too.