Students and alumni reminisce about Ray’s Corner


Many people miss one of their favorite downtown Brookings bars and await its reopening after a fire damaged the building’s interior.


Since Ray’s Corner closed down because of a recent fire, many students are missing the atmosphere and are looking forward to its reopening.

The fire started around 6:30 p.m. March 26.

“The ventilation fan in the men’s restroom [was] the cause of the fire,” said Darrell Hartmann, Brookings fire chief.

Hartmann said when the fire department responded to the call, all the people in the area had been evacuated.

“We had to force entry into the apartments above to ensure they had been vacated,” Hartmann said.

Hartmann said only one firefighter was injured, receiving second and third degree burns when he reached overhead in the restroom to pull down remaining ceiling material. He said the firefighter was treated right away and is now doing well.

“I miss the small town bar atmosphere there is at Ray’s,” Shelby Lemler, a junior nursing major said.

Lemler said she enjoyed going to Ray’s Corner with her older brother and his friends when they came to Brookings to visit.

“Ray’s was one of my brother’s favorite places to go. We had a lot of fun when we were there,” Lemler said.

Stephanie Fischer, a senior political science and secondary education major, said downtown Brookings just isn’t the same without Ray’s Corner.

“It is a fun place to go and hang out. There are always a ton of games there,” Fischer said. “My favorite is playing Battleship and Candy Land when I’m there, and not to mention they have really great roasted peanuts.”

Even SDSU alumni have reacted to the recent fire and closing of Ray’s Corner.

Tyler Hanten, an SDSU graduate, said Ray’s Corner was one of his favorite places to hang out when he went to school here.

“Every time I came to visit after I graduated, I always went to Ray’s. I am looking forward to being able to go back to Ray’s when it opens again,” Hanten said.

Fischer said she was really surprised when she heard about the fire.

“My best friend texted me when it [Ray’s] was on fire. I didn’t believe it at first,” Fischer said.

Hartmann said the building will be able to be used again after repairs are made. He said some damage was done to the building to control the fire.

“The fire directly damaged electrical junction boxes and shorted the electrical system at the breaker panel. We had to cut into the floor and walls of the apartments above this area rendering them unusable until the damage can be repaired,” Hartmann said.

Since the restrooms and the cooler area were directly involved in the fire, Hartmann said the bathrooms will need to be completely reconstructed and the cooler area will need clean up from smoke damage. He said the bar area received little smoke damage.

Fischer said she hopes Ray’s Corner will open up again soon. She said she misses the bar because it reminds her of home.

“I will definitely be back at Ray’s Corner when it opens again,” Fischer said.