New owner says old post office will make a good restaurant
Russell Evenson has already made restaurants out of two buildings that had prior uses. But he says the old Hudson post office at 225 Locust St. will be the best of the three restaurants he has started.
Last month, the City Council approved a liquor license for the future restaurant, allowing Evenson to proceed with his purchase of the old post office from Don Maysack.
Evenson has until the end of April to put the $10,000 Class B reserve license to use, under a deadline set by the City Council.
Major renovations are planned for the building, including construction of an addition on the west side that will house the kitchen.
But in a phone call Tuesday, Evenson said the historical integrity of the old post office will be preserved. The rich woodwork of the lobby and the former postmaster's office will be left untouched, he said.
"I don't want to change the lobby area much at all. I want to keep a postal theme," he said.
In fact, the name of the restaurant will be The Postmark Grill.
"The place was built in 1939. I want to keep a 1930s and '40s look," Evenson added.
The postmaster's office will be left intact, too, and serve as a private dining room for groups of 10 to 15 people.
The work area behind the stately lobby and postmaster's office will require the most remodeling. It will be transformed into the main dining room, with a bar in the corner.
The front patio also will be open for dining and drinks during the warm months.
"As soon as possible," Evenson replied asked how soon construction might begin.
Evenson, a native of the Clear Lake area, opened his first restaurant in 1979, converting a former truck garage in Dresser into the Village Pizzeria.
In the mid-1990s, he converted a former grocery store in Amery into a second restaurant, also named Village Pizzeria.
Evenson sold the Dresser restaurant four or five years ago, but continues as a hands-on owner of the Amery restaurant.
"Ninety hours a week," he said when asked about his involvement in the operation of the restaurant.
He said his son Derek Evenson and daughters Erica Schletty and Heidi Johnson will manage the Hudson restaurant. Schletty and Johnson are Hudson residents, providing part of the motivation for the new venture.
"I just love the Hudson area. It's a beautiful town and it's a growing town," Evenson added.
While the name of his Amery restaurant remains the Village Pizzeria, pizza long ago ceased to be its main dish.
Evenson described its menu as Italian American, with about 15 different pasta entrees, and several kinds of sandwiches, burgers, steaks and salads.
A salad is served family-style with dinner orders.
"We run a family-style restaurant. The selling point is the food and the service. Over the years, we've had great servers," Evenson said.
He said he plans to revamp the menu, but it will be identical for the Hudson and Amery restaurants.