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Post office redux hits the 'Mark'

The Postmark Grille opened for business Dec. 26. It is a family business. From the left are Erica Schletty, daughter and front of the house manager, Russell Evenson, owner and chef, and Derek Evenson, son and manager. They are standing in the main dining room.

The Postmark Grille opened quietly on Dec. 26. The long awaited addition to Hudson's downtown restaurant scene gives customers an Italian-American focused menu and a unique atmosphere in which to enjoy the entrees.

The restaurant is truly a family affair. Russell Evenson, the owner, has been in the business since 1980 when he started The Village Pizzeria in Dresser. The Clear Lake native went to work for Andersen Windows right out of high school. With a drive to succeed, Evenson bought a combination farm supply store and cheese shop and converted it to a restaurant, retaining the cheese shop.

"At first we just served pizza, burgers and spaghetti," said Evenson, who still puts in over 100 hours a week. In 1996, in Amery, he opened a second Village Pizzeria. The Italian connection came from Evenson's wife Janet, one of five siblings whose father, Angelo Terranova, immigrated from Sicily. Terranova and his brother Frank founded F&A Dairy Products. From the beginning the brothers specialized in pizza cheeses, especially mozzarella.

Many of the current selections at the Postmark Grille are based on Sicilian recipes passed down from Angelo.

Evenson, who eventually sold the Dresser location, was no stranger to the Hudson area since two of his daughters live here.

It took time but with the purchase of the old Hudson post office building, the family took on a new challenge, bringing it to life as a full service restaurant and bar.

Family members who helped bring the business to life include Janet, Evenson's wife, who together with their son Derek did the interior design. Derek is also manager of the restaurant and he created the Penny Bar, which includes pennies of every size and vintage imbedded in the bar.

Daughter, Erica Schletty, who lives in Hudson, will be the front house manager. She also teaches figure skating in St. Paul. Schletty's husband Michael was the general contractor for the remodeling project. Her uncle Terry Moore is the back of the house manager in charge of the kitchen, and her sister Heidi Johnson, also a Hudson resident, is involved as well. The family team has created a unique atmosphere, which reflects the era of the 1939 building preserving its heritage. While doing the remodel, they discovered wrought iron details which had been covered up for decades, that inspired them to carry the wrought iron theme through the booth area.

"My dad works 100 hours a week, cooking and doing all bookwork," said Erica. "That's where we get our appreciation for hard work. He put us to work when we were six."

Last week, the public had a chance to peer inside and start sampling the extensive menu. The Postmark Grille seats 138 and retains a historic theme throughout the building. While you are there it is worth looking at the walls as well as the menu. Historic photos and items related to history of the building and the city of Hudson add to the atmosphere.

The full service bar offers many local brews on tap, including Hudson's American Sky and River Falls, Rush River along with favorites from breweries in Menominee, New Glarus and one called Moose Drool, from Montana. The bar itself features a "river" running through it, representing the St. Croix.

The menu offers many options, pasta specialties, including some whole wheat noodles, a vast selection of pizza, a complete burger menu and expanded seafood offerings including torsk, catfish and walleye.

"We also offer a gluten free pizza crust and many vegetarian options," said Erica.

Outdoor dining will be available, weather permitting. Another hint -- when you are looking at the menu, a fun and informative history written by Janet gives you a chance to reflect on what has been preserved by the Evensons in their careful restoration and remodel of the Hudson's 1939 U.S. post office. There is even a small black and white replica of the historic mural which was removed after the post office was relocated.

The Postmark Grille is located at 225 Locust Street in Hudson. It is open for lunch and dinner daily. Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more information, call (715) 377-4699 or 4644. Reservations may be made for parties for six or more.