Burst pipe soaks part of GEL

Water damage temporarily closes restaurant and five hotel rooms

RAINING in the restaurant at Grand Ely Lodge following a water line break. Submitted photo.

by Tom Coombe -

A broken sprinkler prompted a fire call to the Grand Ely Lodge and damaged several hotel rooms as well as its restaurant.
The GEL’s Evergreen Restaurant was closed Wednesday, and five rooms could not be occupied while clean-up was underway.
Mary Zupancich, general manager at the hotel, restaurant, lounge and conference center, said she was hopeful that four of the rooms as well as the restaurant would reopen by the weekend.
A fifth room had significant water damage, according to Zupancich.
The rest of the facility was unaffected and the GEL was open for business Wednesday, with the bar open for regular hours and the weekly Rotary Club luncheon going on as scheduled in the conference area.
It was around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when the Ely Fire Department was dispatched after sprinkler alarms went off.
“My front desk immediately called the fire department,” said Zupancich.“She knew there was no smoke or fire.”
Instead, frozen pipes led to a burst sprinkler, which was located on the top floor on the north side of the 61-room hotel, restaurant, lodge and conference center.
“Maintenance manager Jim (Carlson) and myself came down and the alarm panels showed us where it was located.”
Fire crews and GEL staff found damaged rooms and water that spilled into the restaurant, which had already closed for the night.
A handful of hotel guests were relocated as a result.
“We were able to move the people who were in those rooms to different rooms, and they couldn’t have been more understanding,” said Zupancich.
The amount of damage could not yet be estimated Wednesday, but workers from a Duluth-based cleaning and drying company were on site Wednesday beginning the clean-up operations.
“We hope to have four of the five rooms back on the market this weekend,” said Zupancich. “We don’t know how much damage is (in the restaurant) but we’re thinking by the weekend it will also be open... There has been no other disruption in the hotel at all.”
Zupancich said she was thankful for the efforts of the GEL’s workforce.
“It’s an amazing staff that we have,” she said. “They’ve been wonderful. Great teamwork getting things cleaned up.”