October 28, 2009

Ginny’s Family Restaurant changes hands as Elliot retires

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

After 25 years in the restaurant business, Virginia Elliot has decided it’s time to retire, which means Ginny’s Family Restaurant will be changing hands.
Elliot’s last day with the restaurant was Monday, Oct. 26. The business has been taken over by MaLissa Schroeder and Shelley Suelzle. The pair will lease the space until the end of the year when they plan to purchase the restaurant.
It’s hard to believe that Ginny’s restaurant career began as a way to end her boredom, but that’s exactly how it all began 25 years ago.
“I moved here from Michigan where I had always worked with the public,” says Elliot. “I was getting pretty bored and I missed working with the public. And there it was, the Arnegard Café. It was for sale. So I borrowed the money from my dad and bought it.”
It didn’t take long for Elliot to realize that as long as she owned a restaurant she wouldn’t have to worry about getting bored.
“A lot of people don’t realize how much work is involved with running a restaurant,” says Elliot. “It’s a 24-hour job seven days a week. But I’ve enjoyed it.”
When Elliot first bought the Arnegard Café, it was located on Main Street, and in 1991 she moved it to its current location along Highway 85. Then in 1996 she bought The Burger Ranch and turned it into Ginny’s Family Restaurant.
“Other than location and building changes, I haven’t noticed many changes during my 25 years,” states Elliot. “But then again, I’ve always worked to keep my restaurant a place for good old-fashioned home cooking without a lot of changes.”
The decision to sell and retire came in part because she has reached retirement age. But also because Elliot has been struggling to find employees.
“It’s really hard to find anyone looking for a job right now,” comments Elliot. “My daughter is getting burned out and I’m at that age where I can retire, so I guess it’s time.”
Elliot has enjoyed her years working with the public and now that she will be retired, she says she’ll have to go out for coffee to catch up on all of the gossip.
“I’m going to miss my employees. I’ve had a lot of good ones over the years,” says Elliot. “I’ll also miss all of the great friends I’ve made through the years at the restaurant. But I’m sure I’ll still get out and see a lot of them.”
Elliot hopes that while she is catching up with friends and quilting, the restaurant’s new owners continue to make her old customers happy.
“It’s a hard business and I hope they can make a go of it,” adds Elliot.
New owners Schroeder and Suelzle are both successful business owners looking for a change.
“We’re both looking for something different and this just seemed like the thing,” comments Suelzle. “It’s a new venture for both of us, but we’re excited and ready to give it a try.”
Suelzle and Schroeder plan to change the name of Ginny’s, but so far they haven’t been able to come up with anything they can use. Other changes they plan to implement include being open until 10 p.m. with steaks and walleye on their dinner menu and some interior changes for now.
“We’re going to be closed for a few days while we paint and do some remodeling,” says Schroeder. “Hopefully, we will be able to reopen by Monday, Nov. 2.”
They plan to start with a few menu changes in the beginning with bigger changes coming in January.
“We’ll change a few things in the beginning, but we have plans to make some bigger changes by adding some stuff that you can’t get anywhere else in town,” says Suelzle. “The bigger menu changes will be unveiled at our grand opening in January.”
After 25 years in the business, Elliot is sure to have some good advice and maybe a few cooking secrets to pass along to Suelzle and Schroeder as they begin their new adventure in the restaurant business.
“This has been a good business for me,” adds Elliot. “I hope it works out for them and they get as much enjoyment out of it as I did.”