As he watched the yellow excavator scoop the remains of the Bde Maka Ska/Lake Calhoun pavilion Tuesday, William Price mourned the loss of the popular lakefront cafe where he and his family would cool down on the hottest summer days.
"It's sad to see," Price said. "To me it's one of the best spots in the whole city."
Others stopped by Tuesday to watch the demolition of what remained of the building after it was destroyed by fire May 16. Crews tore down its walls and cleared the rubble and pieces of the burnt roof into large blue dumpsters.
The criminal investigation into the fire continues. Minneapolis police are now calling a man seen in surveillance video before the fire a suspect, though they have not specified what offense has been committed.
No arrests have been made in the case, police spokeswoman Sgt. Darcy Horn said. Horn did not release the man's name and said police are not searching for him.
Last week, Minneapolis police released still images from the surveillance footage, which showed a man and a woman around the pavilion minutes before the fire. The woman in the video came forward to speak with investigators the following day and is not considered a suspect, Horn said.
The concession in the pavilion, Lola on the Lake, was just starting its second season when the fire occurred. Owner Louis King had made several changes to the management and menu after a rough first year and had hoped to see improvements.
As a temporary measure, the restaurant brought an orange food truck to the lake during the Memorial Day weekend. King and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board are now figuring out a long-term solution for serving food on the site.
On Tuesday afternoon, people on foot, bike and scooter took a break from their trips around the lake to see crews demolish the building.
Price was in the middle of his regular bike ride when he stopped to take a look. When his son was younger, they would come to the pavilion to eat ice cream and sometimes drink a beer and watch people pass by.
"I have so many memories, I could write a book," he said.
Bobbie Keller, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1970s, took photos of the ruins. She used to meet friends at the pavilion and rent kayaks nearby.
"It's a landmark in the neighborhood and you think it's always going to be here," Keller, 75, said. "It's really sad to see it go down."
Jeff Heuer, 31, has lived in the apartments behind the pavilion for about six years. The structure was a "staple of the area," he said, where he would see countless people gather during the summertime.
He hoped the Park Board would replace the building, perhaps with an enclosed area that could be used throughout the year. For now, that spot on the lake front will look empty.
"It's been my front-yard view for a while, so it's going to be a little different now," he said.
Crews were expected to bring down the pavilion's walls by Tuesday night. They will continue clearing debris on Wednesday.