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Big Don’s Carthedral: Lester Prairie’s one-stop shop

Empty stomachs and empty gas tanks don’t stay that way for long at Big Don’s Carthedral.

Car trouble? Big Don’s can fix that, too.

Since 2000, owners Don and Kari Artmann have been proud to serve the community with their convenience store, gas station, and complete auto body repair shop at 601 Central Ave. in Lester Prairie.

Don has many years of automotive experience, and he operated Big Don’s out of his rural Lester Prairie home before moving the shop to town and remodeling the building.

“He has customers who have been with us a long time,” Kari said, adding that Don is a 1982 graduate of Lester Prairie High School.

Don is happy to be back at his shop full time, after being diagnosed with leukemia in 2011. He officially received a clean bill of health Oct. 9.

Also serving in the repair shop is mechanic Todd Ruschmeyer.

Big Don’s assistant manager, Barb Trittabaugh, has been with the company since 2001. Other current employees include Angie Jakobitz, Kari Rathkamp, Jacob Roth, Chrissy Helmbrecht, Elizabeth Hecksel, Lizzie Dennis, and Chelsea Forcier, whose first day on the job was Oct. 10.

Big Don’s is a popular place for quick and tasty lunches during the workweek.

“We have made-to-order subs and tacos,” Kari said. “People can call in their orders so they’re ready when they get here.”

Daily lunch specials are also offered, with selections like chicken alfredo, garlic bread, and beef enchiladas.

New to the store this year are “grab and go” sandwiches and desserts, along with fountain pop.

For dessert, Big Don’s offers plenty of unique options. Flavor-burst ice cream (in flavors like chocolate swirl, cheesecake, and watermelon) is available in a cone, cup, or shake. Customers can also make “tornados,” which blend ice cream with candy and other sweet treats.

For bakery items, Big Don’s recently switched wholesalers, and is planning to offer a larger variety of fresh rolls.

Before Thanksgiving, Don and Kari plan to thank their customers by giving them an opportunity to sign up to win a free turkey.

Big Don’s is open Mondays though Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. To learn more, call (320) 395-2214.

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