Alpena rallies to help man after fire strikes iconic saloon

Associated Press

Alpena – A community in the northern Lower Peninsula is raising money to help a man who lost his business when fire destroyed a 134-year-old building.

Jon Benson was a day away from reopening John A. Lau Saloon after the coronavirus shutdown when fire struck last week in downtown Alpena, The Alpena News reported.

The John A. Lau Saloon in Alpena.

“Jon is often one of the first on the scene during tragic events in the community,” police Chief Joel Jett said. “He shows up to make sure our first responders have food, water, whatever they need. … It’s our turn to step up and give back to thank him for all he has done for Alpena.”

A Gofundme page had raised $8,000 by Monday.

The John A. Lau Saloon in Alpena.

The fire also caused damage next door at the Thunder Bay Theatre.

Benson purchased the iconic saloon in 2018 and opened it after extensive renovations in 2019. He also owns J.J.’s Steakhouse and a catering business.