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Curley's on Cotton Lake has new owners

Curley's on Cotton Lake has new owners as of Feb. 5. Deanne and Art Kohler purchased the place after what they say was just "right timing." Kaysey Price / Tribune

It was a fairly seamless transition Monday, Feb. 5 when Curley's owners of nearly two years, Mark Porter and Paul Okeson, signed over the place to new owners Deanne and Art Kohler.

"It just happened to be the right sale at the right time," said Deanne Kohler, explaining what drew her and her husband to the property.

The two have been looking around for some time, hoping to finally jump at that long time dream of being bar owners

"I've been in the business a couple of times," said Kohler, thinking back to being a bartender on the Island Girl, a boat bar on Detroit Lake that was affiliated with the Holiday Inn way back when.

When Curley's became available, Kohler and her husband felt like it was right, even though it was a tad farther from their Audubon home than they were anticipating.

"We couldn't have asked for a better lake to be on.

The only business on Cotton Lake, Curley's has claimed all of the business from the ice fishers and boaters for many years, no matter who the owners have been. It's its own little oasis out there, with its regulars who Kohler says have been very welcoming.

And the Kohlers have been welcoming right back, keeping things fairly the same as how the previous owners have run the place, not looking to shake anything up just yet.

"We've kept all their same drink specials, bingo, the meat raffle," listed off Kohler. "I don't want to change it up too much."

They've got the same staff and all that jazz—though Kohler says they are looking to hire a few more helping hands, particularly for the summer when the whole county will feel that summer rush again.

They did switch up the menu a little bit, adding a little bit of different burger style, but they still kept the dinner specials, and Kohler says it's looking like it will stay that way for a while, maybe with a few small changes here and there until they really get the hang of things and maybe make some bigger changes after the hazy, crazy summer slows down.

"I'm not quite sure what it's going to be just yet," said Kohler. "There's so many things we want to do."

A dream come true for the couple, they bought the business, closed down for a day to clean and flip things around, and then got back up and running the next day, so, really, they're just focused on working hard and living that bar-owner dream. As for changes, those who aren't regular patrons will just have to go check it out themselves.

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