The 59er is open again: Cafe, motel and truck stop popular spot
When one of Karen and Chris Heinz's first customers gave them a 59-cent tip, it meant something.
The 59'er is back.
The new owners tried to have a soft opening two weekends ago, but it ended up being harder than anticipated.
"We didn't advertise; we didn't tell anyone -- and we got bombarded," said Karen Heinz, as her husband, Chris, added, "If there was something that could have gone wrong, it did," he laughed, "We ran out of eggs, the fire department came out because the alarm went off and we didn't know how to shut it off..."
The Heinzes say their customers were all very patient, as many of them had been missing the old truck stop.
The 59'er closed up at the end of December, leaving the area without a real place for truck drivers to get some diesel, a hot meal and a place to stay.
For months, the convenience store/cafe/motel sat quiet, until Chris and Karen Heinz drove past it on their way to Mahnomen.
"Chris said jokingly, 'Hey, we ought to buy that; we have nothing better to do with our time'," Karen Heinz said.
That joke turned a little more serious the next time they drove by it.
"Then he said, 'Why don't we just call and see how much they want for it?'"
That call got the ball rolling, and before they knew it, the Heinzes were the proud new owners of the 59'er.
"We've farmed together in North Dakota; we've flipped houses together; we've raised five children together -- now this!" Chris Heinz said.
Chris, who currently works as the Service Manager at Gateway Chevrolet, once owned a convenience store several years ago, and Karen, who worked in patient services for MeritCare, did some waitressing back in her college years.
Add that up with their background in fixing up houses, and they believe they have just enough experience to pull this business venture off.
"We're new to this, but we're used to working hard," said Karen Heinz.
The couple got busy re-arranging the cafe and getting it up to code, while sprucing up the convenience store and painting some areas in the front.
The bulk of the work has been in the motel section above the store, though, as the Heinzes gutted all 12 rooms.
"We got new beds, new furniture, painted, got new carpet -- we gave it a good facelift," Karen Heinz said, noting that the motel was completely full its first weekend open.
Their very first day open was Friday, June 17, and although they've only been living in Detroit Lakes for three years, they're already feeling the community support.
"They (the truck drivers) are all back and glad we're open, and we've had so many local people stop in," said Karen Heinz, "We're so thankful for all the support -- all the people around here have been so awesome."
Karen is now managing the day-to-day operations of the 59'er, as Chris keeps his day job, popping in on certain mornings, evenings and weekends.
The couple will serve up breakfast throughout the day, as well as three different daily specials.
The cafe section of the 59'er is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and from 6 to 10 on Fridays and Saturdays.
The convenience store is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week.
To stay updated on what's happening at the 59'er, find them on Facebook.