Gary Baba is happy he was at least able to salvage the first $2 bill he earned when he took over Bonanza Steakhouse 21 years ago.

The restaurant’s owner kept the bill framed on the wall of the Saskatoon restaurant, which was significantly damaged in a fire Tuesday night.

“That’s what I was after,” he said, standing outside the destroyed building Wednesday morning. A firefighter had just handed him the frame, which held the bill as well as the cut ribbon used in the restaurant’s 1996 reopening.

“This is what I wanted, right there.”

Baba was in Edmonton Tuesday when he received a call his steakhouse was up in flames. He drove all night to see the damage early Wednesday morning.

“We packed up quick and made our way back as fast as we could,” Baba said. “I was quite shocked when I pulled up. It’s still a shock.”

Firefighters were called to the restaurant just after 10:30 p.m.

Crews initially tackled the fire from inside the building, but were forced outside within the first 10 minutes when flames in the ceiling started to burn through the roof.

A second-alarm sent additional fire crews to the scene about 45 minutes after the first call.

Seventy-eight firefighters responded in total, and the blaze was extinguished several hours after the initial call, according to the Saskatoon Fire Department.

Baba was emotional when speaking about the fire. He said about 20 staff members were waiting for him when he arrived at the restaurant.

“They weren’t going to leave until I got here.”

He’s not sure what his next step will be for Bonanza.

“I’ll see what’s going on here and talk to an inspector,” he said. “I think the damage is done. There’s not much left of it, and the inside is pretty bad. I’ll talk to the landlord and we’ll go from there and kind of take it day to day.”

No one was injured in the blaze.

A cause of the fire is still not known, but an investigator believes the flames started in the kitchen.

Damage is estimated at $2 million.

--- based on a report by Mark Villani and with files from Karyn Mulcahy