By Jen Bakken
LORETTO, MN For Bill and Heidi Rosati of Loretto, the doors on their business, Retro Roast and Fountain, may have closed, but the memories and spirit of community live on.
Beginning by building a “retro room” in their basement, the Rosatis served everything from lattes to burgers and sandwiches to any youth hockey team or church group that would give them the opportunity.
“It was at this time we saw how much fun it was,” said Heidi Rosati. “To see people light up in the retro atmosphere, enjoying family, friends, and great treats from all eras.”
Eventually, they added ice creams, malts, and shakes to their retro basement menu, and then they decided to take the concept to the next level.
Knowing they wanted to open the business in their hometown of Loretto, they looked for an ideal location.
“It was a perfect business idea, on a busy road,” she said regarding their location on Hennepin County Road 19 in downtown Loretto. “But maybe not the ideal place for a business. Nonetheless, the thought of placing our dream in Loretto seemed to be worth the risk.”
The concept behind the Retro Roast and Fountain was to have a place for people from every generation, where they could find a specialty beverage or ice cream treat. It was not only about great taste, but an atmosphere to bring back memories.
After opening in 2003, wanting to appeal to baby boomers, parents, and kids from teens to infants, they added special programs such as the Retro Reader, local musicians on the patio, and hosted large charity events, creating regular customers from as far as 90 miles away.
After five years of living their lives around their business, their lease came to an end, and the couple decided they were ready to put an end to the Retro Roast and Fountain, as well.
“Our first five years in business were filled with joys as well as challenges,” Heidi said. “That we will never forget. We wanted to be able to go out on top of our game and still have time with our parents and children while they are still around.”
For the Rosatis, life after Retro has continued to be busy. Bill continues to teach sixth grade science for the Orono School District and Heidi has been enjoying more time with family and friends, as well as a more relaxed schedule.
“The 5 a.m. start of the day has not changed, as I am now training for triathlons and marathons with other athletes who have Type 1 diabetes,” she said. “It is a nice change of pace, but it is still difficult to drive by the Retro Roast and Fountain building and not see the lights in the windows and the blinking marquis light on County Road 19.”
Heidi was diagnosed with diabetes about 20 years ago and is a firm believer that if a person sets their mind to it, any dream can be accomplished with diabetes.
The retro atmosphere has now moved back to the Rosatis’ basement and continues to be a favorite place for family, friends, and even former employees.
Recently, the family hosted a Retro employee reunion and the group enjoyed continuing their great connection.
“There are so many fond memories from our five great years with Retro Roast and Fountain,” she said. “It’s hard to isolate just one. Our family grew with every customer who came in the door and with every employee we hired. We are extremely thankful for everyone and grateful for the time we were able to share. We have no regrets.”
Another recent party in the Rosati basement had special meaning to the family and many local residents of Loretto.
In honor of Joe Lang, they shared many smiles and a lot of ice cream. Lang, a Delano Elementary student, developed a mass on his spinal cord called Areteriovenous Malformation (AVM), which ruptured and leaked blood into his spinal column.
Though the young boy’s life has changed, he is growing stronger every day.
A benefit has been planned for Joe Lang Saturday, Oct. 10 from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Delano American Legion, featuring dinner, live bands, and a silent auction. For more information, visit Lang’s Caringbridge web site at, www.caringbridge.org/visit/joelang.