Winsted-Lester Prairie Journal, July 19, 1999

LP grocery store sold, new restaurant coming

By Luis Puga

New, old, and current owners of businesses were honored with keys to the city and plaques at the Lester Prairie City Council meeting last Monday.

Among them was an important changing of the guard for Lester Prairie's grocery store.

Mayor Eric Angvall opened the meeting with recognition of the business people.

"Part of the things the city should do is recognize businesses for their contribution to the city," he said, adding that the city wanted to thank them for contributing to the community.

Honored that evening was Roger Weiland of Roger's Jack and Jill. Weiland had been in business in Lester Prairie for 22 years, but has recently been facing health problems concerning his heart.

Weiland, who will be 56 in August, is scheduled for possible open heart surgery later this month. He received both a key and a plaque.

Angvall called the selling of the grocery store a major event for the town.

In earlier comments to the Journal, council member Galen Hochstein said that it was very important to keep the store open and that the city and business community recognized the need to do so.

The sale itself was rumored for some time. With help from the city to find appropriate financing, the new owner, Robert DeMaris, was able to purchase both the business and property of the store.

Some gap financing from the Southwest Minnesota Foundation is still pending as the organization will not meet until the end of the month. Unofficial approval for the financing has been given by the foundation, and some temporary solutions were found that will allow the changeover to have occurred on Sunday.

Angvall said of Weiland, "Roger is one of the ones you always counted on to do a lot of the little extras in town that made the town a little bit more fun to be in," recognizing his contribution to the community at special events.

A visibly emotional Weiland took some time to note his appreciation to the council and community.

"This is probably the hardest time in my life," he said.

Weiland said that since he cane to Lester Prairie in 1965, the community has been good to him and his family.

He added that Lester Prairie needs a grocery store, and should support the new owner who "will do a good job for you."

Weiland added that he has always appreciated the way the town ran, that it will survive, and that he appreciated its independence. Angvall followed Wylan's comment by saying, "Roger, you are loved."

The new owner, DeMaris, was also on hand to get his key to the city. DeMaris thanked the council for its help and support, adding special thanks to Hochstein, who helped find the financing from a bank. Angvall added his appreciation for Hochstein's work.

DeMaris said he is happy to be coming to Lester Prairie, adding that his mother and father had lived here for six years.

"I always told people I'm a small town guy," he said.

Put on the spot for a name for the new store, DeMaris said that it will most likely be called Lester Prairie Market and Deli.

Other businesses were recognized as well.

Dentist John Klobe, who retired in December 1998, was also honored with a key and a plaque for his 39 years of service.

Klobe said he loved the small town and, if he had to repeat his time in Lester Prairie all over again, he would gladly do so.

Hochstein also thanked Klobe for keeping the business in town. His successor, Dr. Sarah Heuer, who has worked with Klobe and bought out his practice, was also given a key.

The last business to be honored was The Depot.

Angvall noted the amount of changes the small gas station and convenience store has gone through over the years. The newest owner of the business, Angie Ross-Litzau, was presented with a key to the city.

New restaurant

On the council's agenda was a request for a 3.2 beer license and the creation of a fee for a wine license. The request came from Doug Olson of Sleepy Eye, who is considering opening a restaurant at the former Pastimes location.

Council members did not have many details on the potential new business, and were surprised by the news.

Olson has yet to close on the property and predicts that he will be in business by Sept. 15. Olson and his wife have operated a restaurant in Sleepy Eye for nine years.

Olson plans to serve items such as pizza, chicken, pasta, salads, and burgers. He also said the pizza will feature delivery. Tentative times will be from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with later hours on weekends.

Olson said he is still considering whether to be open on Sundays.

The council was pleased with the prospect of a restaurant. The lack of a sit-down eating establishment has not gone unnoticed in previous planning discussions.

Further, they were happy to hear that while the prospective restaurant will serve alcohol, it will be more orientated to dining.

Since Olson has yet to close on the property, he cannot obtain the license until that time. It is estimated that he will close this week.

The council went ahead with creating the wine license fee of about $250 annually, which Olson thought was fair. With a 3.2 non-intoxicating license, his annual fees will come to about $350. Those fees will be pro-rated for the remainder of this year.

The license will require some paper work, including a background check. City Clerk Marilyn Pawelk estimated the process will take a couple weeks, and will need approval from the state.

Olson will also be moving to Lester Prairie, in the apartments above the restaurant.

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