The Blue Goose Inn, an iconic bar and restaurant on the west side of Mille Lacs Lake, will discontinue its restaurant as of Sept. 22. Replacing the Garrison restaurant will be a Burger King and a Broadway Pizza, which will offer their menu to bar patrons. Although under the same roof, a wall will divide the bar from the eating establishments.
Blue Goose owner Mark Tadych said Tuesday this sort of joint venture is a first for the Burger King corporation. He said his decision to end his own restaurant operation was based on several factors that were out of his control. They included costs brought on through unemployment compensation insurance, taxes, regulations, the state’s smoking ban, lower driving under the influence limits and police saturation enforcement, all of which resulted in decreased revenue. The changed dynamics, he said, made the current model unsustainable.
“It was a very creative conclusion, to match the efficiencies of the fast food franchises with a full-service bar,” Tadych said. “We were mildly surprised Burger King approved this.”
The franchise owner of both Broadway Pizza and Burger King will be the Dolphin Group of Minneapolis.
The Blue Goose restaurant’s last day will be Sept. 22. At that point the eating establishment will shut down for remodeling with an anticipated reopening of mid-December. Tadych admitted to mixed feelings about closing the restaurant.
“The Blue Goose is important to Garrison,” he said. “It’s important to the lake.”
The current servers will be offered jobs at the reduced-size bar and the kitchen help will be offered jobs with the new food franchises. Tadych said that he currently employs 15 full-time people and about 10 part-time while the franchises will employ the equivalent of about 40 full-time employees.
Tadych was in the process of purchasing the Blue Goose when it burned down in 1993. It was rebuilt on the same location on Highway 169 that it has been located at since 1923. He said his research indicated the original Blue Goose owners raised their own chickens in the early days.
“It was just a little place ... a dozen tables,” he said. “Back then there was no (Highway) 169, as we know it. Just a little rut and a little cowpath. This area was nothing more than fishing camps.”
Myron Stevens, president of the Garrison Commercial Club, remembered working as a bouncer at the Blue Goose. His wife and brother-in-law both bartended there and his sister used to cook there. During the restaurant’s heyday, it was known for its Cornish game hens and prime rib.
“It goes back a long ways ... It’s a sad thing to see it go. It’s an icon. A lot of people worked there and met there,” Stevens said.
Bar patrons will not be able to enter the two eating establishments without walking outside.
Tadych said the Blue Goose bar, which will go from 5,000 to 3,000 square feet, will continue to offer music, but not the four- to six-piece bands it has featured in the past. He said the bar would likely feature venues for one- or two-piece bands, karaoke and disc jockeys.
Tadych said he and the Dolphin Group closed on a deal in April, selling the building and land to the food franchisee. Tadych will continue to own the bar business. He said the Garrison City Council approved of the plans Monday night.
Although admitting to being a little despondent about the economic factors that were out of his control, Tadych said he was excited a business entity such as the Dolphin Group was interested in moving to Garrison.
“They can certainly take on a project like this,” he said.