Citizen Potawatomi Nation officials have moved swiftly to lessen inconvenience from a Sunday morning fire that destroyed a 28-year-old building that housed the CPN-owned FireLake Golf Course clubhouse and the San Remo’s restaurant owned and operated by Shawnee residents Tony and Lazzi Veliu. John ‘Rocky’ Barrett, CPN chairman, announced that a prefabricated structure will be used to house the clubhouse until a permanent replacement is constructed. That structure will be placed on the hill east of the CPN’s Cultural Heritage Center.
Until that pre-fab structure is in place, the pro shop will operate from a building immediately east of the destroyed structure. Chris Chesser, manager of golf course operations for the CPN, said that FireLake Course “will not miss a beat because of the fire.”
Chairman Barrett said that the Nation does not plan to replace the restaurant space that housed the San Remo’s Italian restaurant. “The lessee/operator has agreed to move to the new pizza shop on the north face of the new FireLake Bowling Center,” Barrett said. “His pizza has a very good local reputation already.”
The remaining San Remo’s employees will be absorbed into the Nation’s casino food operations.
Chesser asked that any organization that had scheduled a tournament at FireLake Golf Course in 2011 to re-confirm the tournament to help his staff rebuild the schedule. “If you had a tournament scheduled at our course this year, please call us at 405-519-5428 or 405-585-1503,” he said.
The fire began in the kitchen area of San Remo’s at about 11:45 a.m. on Sunday, January 30. Golf course employee Terry Williams was in the pro shop with the three-year-old son of another employee when he heard a “popping noise” at about 11:48. After determining that the noise was from a fire in the restaurant upstairs, Williams took the youngster to safety and returned to retrieve the money in the pro shop cash register and safe.
Williams said heat, smoke, and flames prevented his re-entering the building to save golf clubs or merchandise. Chairman Barrett added, “The fire had penetrated the roof before the fire department arrived, and the entire building burned in about one-half hour in high wind.”
The destroyed building was constructed in 1982, with the intention of its serving as an elders center. It was never used for that purpose. FireLake Golf Course was constructed shortly afterward. The ‘downstairs portion’ of the building had served as a golf course clubhouse/pro shop. The part atop the hill was home to several restaurants over the years.