Iven's on the Bay will have new owners next month.
The sale closing, for an undisclosed amount, is expected on March 15. It includes the restaurant and house next to it. The seafood restaurant, located along Highway 371 North on North Long Lake's west bay, was started 20 years ago by Iven and Marlene Hudalla.
"At my age, it's time to smell the roses," Iven Hudalla said.
Keith Carlson and Sara McCabe first came to Brainerd with a new vision for a restaurant spot that had seen a couple of dining options come and go fairly quickly. They opened That Place on 8th in downtown Brainerd during the spring of 2002 when Carlson, general manager, was 23 and McCabe, executive chef, was 19.
McCabe's parents, who have a seasonal home in the lakes area, first heard the deli was for sale and they purchased the property. Iven Hudalla said they are involved in the sale of Iven's on the Bay.
"I'm real confident the McCabes will carry on our tradition here," Hudalla said. "That is their intention. They want to keep our staff and I think that is extremely important. Our staff has made us successful."
That Place on 8th sandwich shoppe and deli focused on casual dining with daily specials and business lunch. It was the first time Carlson and McCabe and then partner, Brian Olsen, had run an operation themselves. The three met at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Minneapolis. Olsen has since left the operation.
In May 2002, Iven and Marlene Hudalla announced their son, Alan, was taking over the operation. Alan Hudalla joined his parents in ownership and became general manager. Executive Chef Matt Annand, a longtime family friend and professional colleague, joined the ownership group.
An addition was built and the dining room remodeled. Renovations included a new wine and martini bar and private lake-view banquet room, which seats 70 for a sit-down dinner, on the restaurant's lower level. The seafood restaurant employs 35 people with 50 or more working during the peak summer months.
Last week, Iven Hudalla said those transition plans are kind of like a marriage and things do not always work out the way people plan them. He said the decision to sell the restaurant was better for everyone.
Alan Hudalla said a transition into his operation of the restaurant did not work out because of personal challenges. His role changed to a marketing focus and with a 13-year-old daughter he said he was interested in working more days than nights. He said whether he is involved in the restaurant depends on the structure of the new owners.
"It's definitely sad to see the restaurant move on to a new owner so in one sense it's sad," Alan Hudalla said. "On the other hand I'm really excited for my parents to enjoy the fruits of their labor and relax and enjoy life. The restaurant business is not an easy business and it consumes a lot from a person."
When Iven Hudalla first saw the building he would turn into a restaurant, it had two big life preservers hanging in front. The building housed a health food spot. It was 1984.
Creating a niche as a seafood restaurant was an idea they stuck with. Iven Hudalla said being consistent was important with the food and hours of operation.
Last week, Sara McCabe said there has been talk of a sale of Iven's on the Bay for awhile and they decided to jump at the opportunity. Talks between the two have gone on for about a month. Plans are to keep the seafood restaurant's name at least for the near future.
McCabe said the plan is to keep Iven's on the Bay's existing staff and add three from That Place on 8th.
As far as the downtown Brainerd deli location, McCabe said it has been a fairly decent spot and is in the midst of growth, but it is not a curve they are interested in pursuing. With the culinary school background, McCabe said they were looking for more opportunities and more creativity than was available in a lunch spot.
Annand is expected to sit down with the new operators and look at what the menu offerings will be. McCabe said They want to expand the menu but keep the core.
As for That Place on 8th, the restaurant is for sale. McCabe said they have had a few parties interested, but nothing is concrete yet. She is unsure whether the downtown Brainerd restaurant will close once the ownership transition begins for Iven's on the Bay.
"We have no intention of leaving the area," Iven Hudalla said, adding the emotions are the same for anyone leaving something dear to them or retiring from a career they enjoyed. "There are lots of mixed emotions. Your head tells you one thing and your heart tells you another, but I'm 68, it's time to step aside."
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