Herald JournalHerald Journal, July 14, 2003

New T-Road Tavern owner is veteran of the business

By Julie Yurek

The new owner of T-Road Tavern in New Germany is a familiar face to patrons.

Patty Dietel of Lester Prairie has worked part-time at the bar for 26 years, since she was 19.

She's worked with four owners over the years, and figured she would quit when Randy Stodola, former owner, told her he was selling the business. Stodola owned it for eight years.

Stodola suggested that she buy the business, Dietel said. Her family took a vote and it was decided. She closed on the sale July 1.

Dietel wants to continue providing the kind of atmosphere that Stodola did, she said. "Randy is a mentor to me. He's very supportive."

Dietel plans on keeping the establishment relatively the same. The name will stay and the T-Road bus will continue to be available for rent.

All her employees decided to stay on with her. "I'm very proud of the staff. They are very energetic and a great group to work with. They aren't working for me, they're working with me," she said.

Her husband, Dan, will be cooking sometimes and he is getting his license so he can drive the T-Road bus, Dietel said.

He works full-time as a postal carrier with the Golden Valley Post Office. The Dietels' children are Eric, 12, Katelin, 10, and step son Andrew, who recently graduated from high school.

Dietel's corporation, Kater, Inc., is named after Katelin and Eric, she said.

Besides being a business owner, Dietel is also a volunteer at Lester Prairie Schools and is a Sunday school teacher. She plans on staying active in the community, she said. "It's important to me."

Dietel has lived in Lester Prairie for 15 years. She grew up five miles south of Waverly near Oster.

Food, entertainment

The T-Road Tavern will continue its food specials. Mondays are mini burgers, Tuesdays are Taco Tuesdays, and Thursdays are Thirsty Thursdays.

The bar and grill opens at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday, and noon on Sunday. Burgers, sandwiches, appetizers, and homemade pizzas are available.

For entertainment, the bar has karoke occasionally, three flat screens adorn the walls that are able to broadcast three different games or shows, a jukebox, and darts and a pool table are located in the rear of the bar.

Dietel sponsors many sports teams, including volleyball, men's and women's softball, horseshoe, darts, and men's and women's pool.

Pull tabs, sponsored by the New Germany Fire Department, are available.

Dietel wants to be as full service as possible, she said.

Closing time

Now the bar closes at 1 a.m., but Dietel did speak to the New Germany council about the 2 a.m. closing, she said.

The cities of Waconia and St. Bonifacius went to 2 a.m. and the T-Road has a large customer base from that area, she said.

She would at least like the option to stay open later, she said. "I could always go back to 1 a.m."

She would only extend hours Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Dietel feels that a later closing time will just mean a shift in arrival time at the bars. "Instead of coming at 8 p.m., they'll come at 9 p.m.," she said. Staying open later is not about drinking, it's about socializing, she said.

Safe way home

Safety is her main concern for her customers, she said.

She is seeing a new level of responsibility in customers. More people are taking turns as designated driver, she said.

However, if customers do become too intoxicated, Dietel is part of a sober cab ride pool, she said.

She pays a monthly fee to be a part of it. Customers who use the service pay nothing. The cab can take people to other bars that are in the pool or to their homes.

There are about 12 area bars that use the service including St. Boni, Waconia, Victoria, and Mayer.

The cab is available Wednesday through Saturday, from 7 p.m. to whenever the bars close.

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