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Retirement plans prompt Stroms to sell Brandon restaurant, bar
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

May 22. 2014 6:00AM
A Brandon family has severed its ties with their near two-decade-old business, Tailgator’s Sports Bar & Grill, in exchange for retirement and new career paths.

Curt and Barb Strom and their son and daughter-in-law, Tyler and Rochelle, have sold the restaurant and bar to Dave Halverson of Luverne, Minn., after nearly 18 years in business here.

“We are very ready to enjoy retirement and very excited to be with our grandchildren more, to have time for each other and not have to work every night,” says Barb.

Curt and Barb will retire, while Tyler and Rochelle, who will stay on the Tailgator’s payroll for now, are pursuing other career endeavors.

“We want to make sure it still remains successful while in the transition,” Tyler said, “so I don’t feel like I’ve really left yet because I’m still working.” He is continuing on in his role of menu and drink planning, while Rochelle will continue to do the accounting for Halverson.

“It’s definitely a compliment to us as a management team that he sees value in what we’ve built over the years,” Curt said of Halverson’s decision to keep things as they are. “It’s worked for us. We stirred the pot, threw the ingredients in and something good came out of it.”

While Tyler and Rochelle, who joined his parents in the business seven years ago, had considered taking over the business fully, they decided it was time for a change for their young family.

“When it came that time for them to retire, we’d decided that if we want to make a change, this would be the time to do it. More or less, it was a family decision so I can see my kids more, help out with the family more and enjoy family life.”

About a year ago, Tyler enrolled in the cardiovascular invasive specialist program at Southeast Technical Institute. In December, he will begin clinicals.

“I’ll still be doing my same niche of the business, which I love doing,” Rochelle informs. “But I’m really excited to see Tyler have normal hours and see our kids more so that our family can spend more time together.”

Rochelle said their decision was solidified by a comment made by daughter, Natalie, when explaining the sale of the business to their children.

“Natalie’s reaction when we sat down to tell the kids was, ‘Oh my gosh! Is dad going to find another restaurant to live at?’ That solidified our decision,” she said.

The Stroms and Halverson were brought together through their accountant, who knew the Stroms wanted to sell, and Halverson was looking to buy.

“He (Dave) has a lot of energy, a great personality and is personable with clients, and we found him to be very outgoing,” Barb said. “He wants to run the business as is, so he’s kept all of the employees in place. I think that’s a huge goodwill on his part, because our employees are good at what they do and we appreciate them, so it’s a good feeling knowing that they have jobs.”

That consideration for keeping on their staff was a major selling point for the Stroms.

But the parting hasn’t come without emotion.

“For me, it was probably a little more emotional because I love our staff and they’re like family,” Barb says. “We did shed a few tears, but we’re ready and they’re happy for us.”

Adds Curt: “It was almost 18 years, so it’s like a big family to us, to the whole community.”

Tailgator’s got its start in Brandon in 1996, opening originally under the name of “Sports Page,” in the Sunshine Foods/Lewis Drug plaza where Alliance Communications is today.

“We had to roll up our sleeves, get a fresh start and make our own imprint in the sand,” Curt says.

Just over a year ago, the Stroms did some renovations to the business.

“We wanted to freshen it up - it was time,” Curt said. “You can’t leave things as is too long in this business. You’ve got to make things exciting for customers … and it’s an investment in the community.”

The restaurant/bar’s location has proved to be valuable.

“We’re sort of the gateway to Brandon,” Curt said. “We took our chance on building a nice building and it has rewarded us.”

The Stroms say they’ve developed many lasting friendships through their patrons and their staff.

“They’re not only patrons or staff, as a lot of them have become good friends,” Curt said.

While it was difficult to turn over the keys and say their goodbyes to staff and patrons, Barb looks forward to a few things.

“I’m kind of excited about not working Mother’s Day or Easter,” she said, “and cooking for the family instead.”
The restaurant-bar is open all but two days of the year.

“We’re only closed two days out of the whole year, otherwise we’re open 7 a.m. to midnight or 2 a.m.,” Barb said.

“That’s why it takes a team to run it,” adds Curt.

All four of the Stroms agree they've been good business partners.

“We’re an awesome team,” Curt said.

“We made a great team as far as the dynamics and had a respect for the business,” Tyler tosses in.

Adds Rochelle: “I think we had a really good work relationship that was separate from our personal relationship. We talked about that early on, that we still wanted to have a family relationship outside of work, and I think we really did that.”

Saying goodbye
“Where do you even start?” Barb asks. “First, I would thank each and every one of our patrons for coming in and supporting us, and tell them that they will all be missed.”

Curt adds: “It’s kind of like being a teacher. You’ve got a bunch of kids you’ve been with all year and the next year they move on to someone else and you’re sad to see them go.”

After nearly 18 years in business, Barb and Curt Strom (seated) have parted ways with Tailgator's Grill and Bar. The Stroms have sold the Brandon restaurant and bar to Dave Halverson of Luverne, Minn. Their son and daughter-in-law, Tyler and Rochelle, who joined Barb and Curt in the business seven years ago, will continue to work in their respective roles for now. Photo by Jill Meier

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