Fire Destroys Dingman’s Bar, Owners and Snowmobilers Share Memories

A fire ripped through Dingman’s Bar just after 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.

The building sits right off M-72 and West Bear Lake Road in Kalkaska and it’s a popular stop this time of year for snowmobilers.

Dingman’s bar was built back in 1952 and has been described as an icon and a family member for many but now all that’s left is the front door.

“It’s devastating. We watched the whole thing it was really awful, at first you don’t even believe it’s really happening,” said owners Robert and Karren Laurence. “It’s the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen. And then you just start seeing it full and it was just awful.”

For the last 10 years, Robert and Karren Laurence have made this restaurant a home not only for their family but for everyone that walked through the doors.

“Great food, cold beer, good people, we have awesome trails, snowmobiles, side by sides,” said Robert. “It’s just an amazing, amazing bar with a history it’s unbelievable, I can’t believe it’s gone.”

“There’s a lot of fond memories, a lot of people from other states know where Dingmans’ is, if you’ve never been here I’m sure you’ve heard of Dingman’s Bar,” said Pat Modos.

And before that, it was part of the Modos family for 15 years.

“A lot of memories, I mean we knew Mabel Dingman when we bought the bar, she was the original builder in 1952, she built the bar and she was like a grandma to us,” said Pat.

“We feel like a member of our family has passed away,” said Pam Modos.

Four walls that didn’t just make up a restaurant but connected families, friends and a community.

“It’s a little easier right now, it’s a little easier taking a look at it now and just seeing it it’s no fun but it’ll be okay. We’ll get through it,” said Pat and Pam.

“We would just like to say to everybody, we appreciate their support and everybody offering their help we really appreciate that thank you from our hearts,” said Robert.

“Thank you everybody,” said Karren.

Despite this being a difficult time, the owners want everyone to know that their plan is to bring Dingman’s back, better than ever.

Faithful visitors say they love karaoke in the summer at their outdoor bar and of course stopping by on snowmobiles in the winter.

The former owners even called the snow “pennies from heaven” because their restaurant could easily be filled with 80 people on any snowy night.

And that showed on Wednesday, as many came by to share their memories.

“I’m really going to miss this place, I was just here last night for dinner and the night before and really had good sandwiches and the people were really friendly,” said Bill Markiewicz “I’m shocked, it’s just crazy, it’s just incredible it’s gone.”

Stay with 9&10 News, as we work to bring you updates on possible reconstruction at Dingman’s.

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