Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, January 11, 1999

New Depot owner has ties to its past

By Luis Puga

A Lester Prairie staple, The Depot, has recently changed hands to Angela Ross-Litzau.

While some entrepreneurs say that their business is in their blood, Ross-Litzau can make that boast literally.

The original Depot was owned by her grandfather, Henry Wiedenroth, who moved the city's train depot from downtown to its present location on County Road 1 in 1979.

Now, his legacy continues in his granddaughter, who is leasing the building from its former owner, Peter Jude.

"We own everything except the building and the lights," said Ross-Litzau.

But beyond that, she has a stake of memories associated with that business and a desire to buy.

"Even when we (Ross-Litzau and her siblings) were little when my grandpa had it, I remember coming in and my grandma letting us run the till," said Ross-Litzau.

After Wiedenroth's tenure, Carolyn Ross (Angela's mother), worked in The Depot under Jude's ownership from 1982 to 1994. Ross is the current manager.

Ross-Litzau remembers working in the store at the age of 14.

Jude owned the store from 1979 to 1994. He then sold it, but bought it back in 1996.

In 1998, he was going to close it down, but Ross-Litzau made an offer. "I just couldn't see it becoming nothing," she said.

That choice was very good for the regulars, which The Depot has plenty of.

"We have our coffee guys in the morning," said Ross. Lunch also sees a host of familiar faces who come and eat at the tables in the back of the store or take out some hot pizza or a daily lunch special.

The regulars are so dedicated that they even visit on holidays.

Said Ross-Litzau, "Even on Thanksgiving, some of them sat at that table for three hours, talking."

Those people who depend on it are one of the reasons why she decided to buy.

While some people might believe that a daughter/mother working relationship might be difficult, both ladies say working together is easy.

"We don't really have a problem with it at all. We can tell each other how we feel," Ross said.

That easy give-and-take will be an asset for future changes. The newly installed pumps will soon be available to customers with credit cards 24 hours a day, and the property will be tarred next year.

Ross also mentioned some plans in the works including possibly doing some catering and, further down the road, adding a sit-down restaurant in the form of an old dining train car to play up the train theme.

Another change that will affect the business will be the upgrading of County Road 1. The new road will be a 10-ton road, allowing hungry semi-truck drivers to stop in for snacks and gas.

As for Ross-Litzau, she admitted she didn't expect to be where she is now. At 22 years old, she may be the youngest entrepreneur in Lester Prairie. But she's happy The Depot is back in her family.

"Hopefully, I have a family one day that I can pass it on to," she said.

Ross added that The Depot's return to the family has probably made her father very happy.

"I'm sure he is smiling right now," she said.

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