By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN Just three months after the idea was born, business partners Todd Johnson and Ryan Nelson, both of Dassel, are ready to open the doors to Cokato Wine & Spirits.
The longtime friends had discussed the idea of opening an off-sale liquor store this past September.
Nelson helped organize the Red Rooster Days three-on-three basketball tournament and was seeking sponsorships.
Johnson happened to be the biggest financial supporter and was therefore, awarded a T-shirt.
It was at that T-shirt delivery when Nelson and Johnson started talking about the possibility of opening a store together.
Nelson originally wanted to open a liquor store in Dassel 15 years ago, when the town was still dry. He even went to the city council to have liquor placed on a special ballot, Nelson said, but his request was denied.
At that time, he owned and operated a bar and restaurant in Dassel called Lefty’s. Most recently, Nelson was a financial planner in Willmar.
Johnson also has business experience, opening and operating Parts City stores in Cokato and Kimball. In addition, Johnson owns the building at 500 West Cokato Street, and space was available for a liquor store. The store will be located in the suite between Parts City and Snap Fitness.
With the support of the Cokato City Council, the pair were granted a liquor license.
Along with the cooperation of Kensington Bank, the mens’ goals of opening a liquor store has come to fruition.
Currently, the store is 2,200 square feet, but with planned remodeling, the store will be 4,000 square feet when complete.
“We’re excited about the next four months of expansion,” Johnson commented, who explained that the store will have a rustic feel to it.
The plans are to tear down some walls to open the space up and include a special area for wine and beer tastings. The area will consist of a bar, fireplace, and pub tables for quarterly events.
Also as part of the store, they will have a “beer cave,” or a walk-in cooler featuring beer for sale.
As far as selection, Cokato Wine & Spirits will have an assortment of wine and liquor, along with domestic beer, imported, crafts, and microbrews.
“We want something a little different,” Nelson said, as far as liquor stores go.
They also want help with ideas for inventory.
“We want people to tell us what they want us to stock,” Johnson said. “We really want to cater to the consumers and what they want to see.”
The store opens today (Monday, Dec. 17). Hours of operation are Mondays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.