Pair set to open Lansing Corners in September
Back in March 2020, as the coronavirus wreaked havoc on the world, the bottom dropped out for friends and business partners Steve Patterson and Brian Miller.
“We were going to open a brewery in Rochester,” Patterson said. “We had everything lined up – then COVID hit. And just like that, we lost our building, we lost our loan, we lost our investor, and we lost our own money we’d already invested.”
It was a gut-punch for Patterson – who has a career in food service – and Miller, who has a passion and talent for brewing beer.
“Honestly, I can say we never really recovered,” Miller said. “We just refused to give up. I’m not going to let things keep me from my dream.”
Nearly 18 months later, part of their dream is nearly a reality: The pair is nearing the finish line on the refurbishing of Lansing Corners, a 14,000-square-foot former supper club on U.S. Highway 218, about nine miles south of Blooming Prairie.
“We needed a realistic opportunity, and here was this restaurant in the middle of a cornfield, that everybody loves, but they don’t want to do the work,” Patterson said.
Though they closed on the business July 1, the men were able to start making repairs in May. It needed new siding and roofing, “and the plumbing was real tough,” Patterson said. “The building has a lot of personality, and means a lot to the area, so we didn’t want to change it too much. We just wanted to update it, freshen it up.”
“We technically didn’t have to do any renovation, but we wanted to do it right,” Miller said.
Patterson has been a cook, bartender, DJ and bouncer at various businesses.
“I’ve done everything at a bar except own one,” he said. “Knowing every role is going to make me a better boss. I didn’t have to be a dishwasher, but I wanted to know what it was like to come home with a dishwasher’s paycheck.”
There are 15 employees already signed on, including some former staff members who can help with some of the 1936 building’s quirks.
The bar and grill will feature burger baskets, chicken sandwiches “and a lot of appetizers,” Miller said. “The main thing we want is for it to be functional again, all cleaned up, a place where people can come in, feel comfortable, enjoy themselves and get a good meal at a fair price.”
The event space, an addition to the building in 2000, has already been rented out several times – for everything from baby showers to political party gatherings.
The original dream of opening a brewery remains, with the first step – acquiring commercial property – finally checked off the list. Miller has his sights set on 2023; as they build clientele and capital, he’ll continue to refine his brewing – already 14 recipes strong.
“We’d like to be able to sell our own beer, but we need to get established,” Patterson said. For now, they’ll feature local beers and introduce more craft beers to the area.
“There’s always going to be a hurdle,” Patterson said, “but as long as we can jump over it, we’ll keep moving forward.”