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ISSUE 118 VOL 16 PUBLISHED 4/15/2005

Ole Store, Roll to return

By Brenna Bray
Staff Writer


Friday, April 15, 2005

The Ole Store, an historical restaurant to Oles of all ages, will re-open June 1 under new owner Kevin Green.

Green, a local businessman, bought the Ole Store as a business investment from his brother-in-law, Bob Stangler.

Green closed the deal with Stangler on March 15 and is finishing negotiations with committed tenants "with roots in the area" to manage and run the store.

Green said negotiations are 99 percent completed, and he hopes to release the tenants’ names to the public sometime next week.

To entice potential tenants, Green is giving the store a new roof and a fresh coat of paint. He also intends to add new upstairs windows and a tarred parking lot as part of the owner’s costs.

There will be a deli counter, a café and diner and a specialty store “that emulates the old general store in today’s creative world,” Green said.

Following in Green’s footsteps, the tenants plan to give the interior décor a complete facelift.

“I watched [the tenants] pick out color schemes and swatches the other day,” Green said. “Their passion is exciting.”

Green is not the first local to rescue the Ole Store from going under. Agnes Mulcahy saved the store from closing in 1986. She owned and ran the store from 1986 to 1989 when Stangler, a Northfield local, bought the establishment with his wife, Susan.

Stangler has restaurant experience from managing The Magic Pan, a crêperie in Minneapolis, prior to its closing.

The Stanglers owned and operated the Ole Store with the help of Dick and Eileen Fehner, who worked the lunch counter.

But after 15 and a half years of seven-day work weeks – three of those years spent living in the store’s upstairs apartment – the Stanglers closed the store and retired from the restaurant business.

“Fifteen years is too long to be in the restaurant business,” Stangler said. “Seven years is the most anyone should manage a restaurant.”

And the Ole Store is not the easiest restaurant to manage.

Since its establishment in 1889, the Ole Store has been a small fish in the expanding pool of food establishments. The Ole Store battles “not just larger Northfield franchises, but private services too,” Stangler said.

Buntrock Commons and its dining options, Carleton’s cafeterias and even the Northfield Golf Course’s food services all compete for business, Stangler said.

“Fast food franchises are a different type of market,” Stangler said. “Every time someone makes a decision to eat someplace other than the Ole Store, they are creating competition, even if they just chose to have breakfast at home.”

Stangler said that in addition to restaurants like Froggy Bottom’s Pub and Applebee’s, the boom of pizzerias had a strong impact on the Ole Store’s business.

Despite the plentiful competition, Stangler felt the Ole Store was worth its weight in restaurant gold – and apparently he is not the only one who thinks so.

“We had the store on the market for three years, but once we closed, we found a buyer within sixty days,” Stangler said. “I think it was the closing that drew the response.”

Or maybe it was the fear of never tasting another Ole Roll, one of the Ole Store’s claims to fame.

Stangler said it was not uncommon to receive orders for shipments of Ole Rolls from all over the country, many of them requesting overnight delivery.

After the Stanglers announced their decision to close the Ole Store, demand for Ole Rolls became so intense that the Stanglers had to refuse all out-of-store requests for the savory sweet.

“If success is defined by good food and good service, then Ole Rolls – as good food – are an integral part of the process,” Green said. He confirmed that plans to reopen the restaurant in June definitely include bringing back the Ole Roll.

But the Ole Roll is just one of the Ole Store’s succulent successes. The St. Olaf women’s cross-country team captain, April Graves ’05, loved to prepare for cross-country meets and celebrate her victories at the Ole Store with the Ole Roll French Toast.

Many Ole students and alumni retain memories of anniversaries, birthdays and even marriage proposals all celebrated at the Ole Store.

“All the time we hear things like, ‘I was engaged in the back booth at the Ole Store,’” Stangler said.

In fact, the Ole Store is home to so many time-honored memories and traditions that Stangler said the store is eligible to be on the National Registry – something which Green and the potential tenants may pursue.

Regardless of whether or not the Ole Store joins the National Registry, Green’s negotiations with the potential tenants will ensure that the Ole Store’s doors will be open to Oles and Northfield residents alike for many years to come.

“It’s fun to be involved in a property that has the good will that the Ole Store has,” Green said.

Hopefully his involvement will help the Ole Store spread its good will – and good Ole Rolls – for many generations of Ole students and alumni to come.

Green, a local businessman, bought the Ole Store as a business investment from his brother-in-law, Bob Stangler.

Green closed the deal with Stangler on March 15 and is finishing negotiations with committed tenants "with roots in the area" to manage and run the store.

Green said negotiations are 99 percent completed, and he hopes to release the tenants’ names to the public sometime next week.

To entice potential tenants, Green is giving the store a new roof and a fresh coat of paint. He also intends to add new upstairs windows and a tarred parking lot as part of the owner’s costs.

There will be a deli counter, a café and diner and a specialty store “that emulates the old general store in today’s creative world,” Green said.

Following in Green’s footsteps, the tenants plan to give the interior décor a complete facelift.

“I watched [the tenants] pick out color schemes and swatches the other day,” Green said. “Their passion is exciting.”

Green is not the first local to rescue the Ole Store from going under. Agnes Mulcahy saved the store from closing in 1986. She owned and ran the store from 1986 to 1989 when Stangler, a Northfield local, bought the establishment with his wife, Susan.

Stangler has restaurant experience from managing The Magic Pan, a crêperie in Minneapolis, prior to its closing.

The Stanglers owned and operated the Ole Store with the help of Dick and Eileen Fehner, who worked the lunch counter.

But after 15 and a half years of seven-day work weeks – three of those years spent living in the store’s upstairs apartment – the Stanglers closed the store and retired from the restaurant business.

“Fifteen years is too long to be in the restaurant business,” Stangler said. “Seven years is the most anyone should manage a restaurant.”

And the Ole Store is not the easiest restaurant to manage.

Since its establishment in 1889, the Ole Store has been a small fish in the expanding pool of food establishments. The Ole Store battles “not just larger Northfield franchises, but private services too,” Stangler said.

Buntrock Commons and its dining options, Carleton’s cafeterias and even the Northfield Golf Course’s food services all compete for business, Stangler said.

“Fast food franchises are a different type of market,” Stangler said. “Every time someone makes a decision to eat someplace other than the Ole Store, they are creating competition, even if they just chose to have breakfast at home.”

Stangler said that in addition to restaurants like Froggy Bottom’s Pub and Applebee’s, the boom of pizzerias had a strong impact on the Ole Store’s business.

Despite the plentiful competition, Stangler felt the Ole Store was worth its weight in restaurant gold – and apparently he is not the only one who thinks so.

“We had the store on the market for three years, but once we closed, we found a buyer within sixty days,” Stangler said. “I think it was the closing that drew the response.”

Or maybe it was the fear of never tasting another Ole Roll, one of the Ole Store’s claims to fame.

Stangler said it was not uncommon to receive orders for shipments of Ole Rolls from all over the country, many of them requesting overnight delivery.

After the Stanglers announced their decision to close the Ole Store, demand for Ole Rolls became so intense that the Stanglers had to refuse all out-of-store requests for the savory sweet.

“If success is defined by good food and good service, then Ole Rolls – as good food – are an integral part of the process,” Green said. He confirmed that plans to reopen the restaurant in June definitely include bringing back the Ole Roll.

But the Ole Roll is just one of the Ole Store’s succulent successes. The St. Olaf women’s cross-country team captain, April Graves ’05, loved to prepare for cross-country meets and celebrate her victories at the Ole Store with the Ole Roll French Toast.

Many Ole students and alumni retain memories of anniversaries, birthdays and even marriage proposals all celebrated at the Ole Store.

“All the time we hear things like, ‘I was engaged in the back booth at the Ole Store,’” Stangler said.

In fact, the Ole Store is home to so many time-honored memories and traditions that Stangler said the store is eligible to be on the National Registry – something which Green and the potential tenants may pursue.

Regardless of whether or not the Ole Store joins the National Registry, Green’s negotiations with the potential tenants will ensure that the Ole Store’s doors will be open to Oles and Northfield residents alike for many years to come.

“It’s fun to be involved in a property that has the good will that the Ole Store has,” Green said.

Hopefully his involvement will help the Ole Store spread its good will – and good Ole Rolls – for many generations of Ole students and alumni to come.





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