Saying goodbye to a piece of Delano’s past

December 10, 2007

By Jen Bakken
Staff Writer

If walls could talk, there would be many stories to hear from the cute little yellow building at 200 Babcock Blvd., most recently called The Daily Grinde.

To some, it may be just a place known for great coffee, cute gifts, or pretty flowers but to Mark and Gina Kosek, it is like a member of their family.

For the past five and one-half years, this couple has put their heart and soul into preserving the building constructed by Mark’s great-grandfather, Charles Motzko, Sr.

Having survived three floods, a robbery, three name changes, and one previous expansion of Highway 12, this building could be referred to as “the little store that could.”

Not only has it been able to stay open in Delano for more than 92 years, but it has also remained in the Motzko family.

However, with Highway 12 expanding again, the store will, this time, permanently leave its perch.

“I could open somewhere else if I found the right place, but it’s more about the building itself, that makes it so sad,” said owner Gina Kosek.

Whether you’ve know this business as The Daily Grinde, Dee’s General Store, or Motzko’s General Store, this building is a piece of Delano’s history.

Most people wouldn’t remember what year the cost for a loaf of bread was 15 cents, or when a horse and buggy were used to deliver supplies, but the Motzko family does.

The year was 1915, and Charles Motzko Sr. had arrived in Delano, from Poland.

He built Motzko’s General Store, where men who made deliveries by horse and buggy, could come in for a drink at a small bar. During these early years, customers could take part in bartering and charging, such as trading a loaf of bread for sugar.

When Charles Sr. passed away in 1942, the store was passed down to his son, Charles Jr. Living above the store with his wife, Francis, the couple raised six children, Dee, Chuck, Stan, Gloria, Fran, and John. Gloria was actually born above the store with the help of a midwife.

Motzko’s General Store survived floods in 1952, 1965, and 1969, even though one flood left three feet of water inside the store.

All six children have many fond memories of growing up above the store.

“When dad had the bar, us kids would listen to all the men talk when we were supposed to be in bed,” remembered Dee (Motzko) Kosek.

They each worked at the store as soon as they could make change, and the grassy area in front of the creamery building made a great play area during their childhood, as well as down by the Crow River.

“I think we all fell in the river at one point or another,” laughed John Motzko.“We’d be gone all day playing while our parents worked the store, then be back for dinner.”

Beginning in the ‘50s, the family would make a float each year for the Delano Fourth of July parade.

Francis would involve her six children in the design and creation process. Their father was just as creative, as Dee remembers him spending hours hand-making all of the signs needed throughout the store.

“We used to marvel at his good penmanship, since he only made it through sixth grade,” she recalled.

Charles Jr. had a saying, “Moztko’s General Store, where quality costs no more,” and they would stamp this onto all of the paper bags used at the store.

Looking at the small three-bedroom apartment above the store makes one wonder how a family of eight could fit into such a small area, but they recall it being a comfortable home, and in the ‘70s, they added on to enlarge the store area.

In 1975, Charles Jr. sold the store to his son, John. While he kept the name, he did take out the bar to focus mainly on groceries.

The store survived a burglary in 1979, by knifepoint. Fortunately, the two employees working during the robbery weren’t injured, and the suspect was apprehended in Maple Plain.

At a time before there were Tom Thumbs, Holidays, or other convenience stores, Motzko’s General Store was a busy place, where customers were allowed to have charge accounts.

John opened his store at 7 a.m., and with a dozen or so employees, he was able to stay open until 11 p.m.

In 1987, Charles Jr. passed away after working in the store nearly his entire life, and Dee purchased the store from her brother, calling it Dee’s General Store.

Keeping the store in the family was important to her, and she kept some of the convenience items, but also added crafts and flowers. Their mother, Francis, passed away this past January, but helped make floral arrangements throughout her last years.

“As a ‘ma and pa-type store’ I got to know so many people, they’d stop in just to chit-chat,” Dee said adding, with tears in her eyes, “That’s one thing I miss the most.”

For approximately 15 years, she ran the store with the same passion as her brother, father, and grandfather.

She proudly keeps a scrapbook consisting of old advertisements and newspaper articles regarding the store. In the early 1990s, KARE 11 aired a story featuring the store and its history.

Dee enjoyed the days when she owned her small town shop, and said customers would come in with their own memories of her dad.

“Men used to come in and say they remembered coming in and getting bread and a beer from my dad,” she said.

When she sold the building to her son and daughter in-law, Mark and Gina Kosek, a little over five years ago, Dee was relieved the store would remain in the family.

Mark and Gina made many modifications and improvements to the building while maintaining its historic charm. Renaming the store, “The Daily Grinde,” they began selling coffee, flowers, and unique gift items.

“I’ve really enjoyed shopping here over the years,” said Karen Zeug of Delano.

The Daily Grinde was open for business until Nov. 24, and many customers stopped by to shop or just visit, including Zeug.

After the doors were closed to the public, Mark and Gina hosted a gathering for the whole family. There were countless pictures, memories, and stories shared.

“We watched a tear-jerking slide show,” said Delores Kosek.

Charles Jr. and his wife, Francis, were surely smiling down on their six children as they said goodbye to a building full of memories.

Delano City Administrator Phil Kern explained that the City of Delano purchased the building and land last summer with hopes that someone may be interested in buying and relocating the building, which wasn’t a viable solution for Mark and Gina Kosek.

“If we can’t find anyone interested in relocating the building, it will be torn down in the spring or early summer,” Kern said. The city is purchasing property along the Crow River’s floodplain as part of flood prevention efforts through a grant it received.

Four generations of the Motzko family have poured their hearts and souls into maintaining a piece of their family history. They have opened their doors to the community and helped create memorable moments for the past 94 years.