Opening a new business is an exciting, but risky venture. But a resurrected restaurant in Luverne, Minnesota, seems to have the entire community abuzz. A chef is hoping some hometown cooking is the recipe for long-term success.
Walk into Luverne, Minnesota's newest restaurant, The Bluestem, and you'll find new surroundings in both the dining room and the bar. Open for three weeks now, business is going strong.
"Every day we come in and don't know what to expect. We open the doors at five o'clock for the restaurant and there's a line right out the door," General Manager Matt Lais said.
The Bluestem opened in what used to be known as the iconic Magnolia Steak House. But when the economy went down, so did that business. Now with a new name, new management and a new focus, those in the community hope the doors are never closed again.
"It's small-town Luverne. We just want somewhere everybody can go that's very nice, kind of the fine dining atmosphere, yet if you climb out of a combine or a tractor, you're more than welcome to come in," Lais said.
"I've had the food; it's awesome. The atmosphere is tremendous; the food is great," Terry Vajgrt said.
Vajgrt is just one of many people already raving about the Bluestem.
"For the people of Luverne to have a place we can come to without the need to travel is a great benefit to the community and we couldn't be happier," Vajgrt said.
But how did this business that was sitting empty just 16 weeks ago get transformed? Meet Skyler Hoiland.
"Burns, scars, cuts, I love it all. You know, 16-hour shifts on your feet, I wouldn't trade it for the world," Hoiland said.
Hoiland grew up here in Luverne, and then spent a year crafting his culinary skills at Le Cordon Bleu in the Twin Cities. He then spent three more months perfecting his skills in Colorado.
"There I learned tradition and Italian tradition and pairings of food and wine and what makes it delicious," Hoiland said.
Hoiland spent more time in Colorado before hearing about this business opportunity. Now, back home and a business owner and the chef, this 22 year old is busier than ever.
"It's definitely a great feeling having all your family and a lot of people that you've known your entire life that know you and come and support you. If I were to do this anywhere else, I wouldn't get the support that I'm getting," Hoiland said.
Even with enthusiasm and training, Hoiland knows opening a business like this is a tremendous risk, but he's hopeful it will pay off for a very long time.
"A common statistic is that 75 percent of all restaurants that open up fail within the first two years. I took that and a couple people telling me I couldn't do it and kind of fueled my hunger for this. There's nothing that I won't do to make this place successful," Hoiland said.
Determined, passionate and willing to work, Hoiland may have found his best recipe yet. Those just might be the ingredients to keep this business buzzing for a long time.
"I love what I do and it's not called work if you love what you do. So I'll be here every day for the rest of my life," Hoiland said.
In addition to hiring about 40 employees, the Bluestem is also helping the economy of southwest Minnesota by using mostly local ingredients. Hoiland even offers buffalo meat, which is raised just up Highway 75.