By Todd Moen, Editor
With construction having officially begun on the new Ground Round Grill & Bar in Waconia, citizens can expect to enjoy something of a two-for-one when the establishment opens on Cherry Drive next to the AmericInn this fall.
The nearly 5,000-square foot, 200-seat restaurant features a two-room concept, with one room being a sports bar and the other being a separate dining room.
"The day is finally here that we start the construction of the Ground Round in Waconia," said Matt Woelfel, owner of the Waconia Ground Round, during the restaurant’s groundbreaking, which was held on Wednesday, July 11. "I am excited to bring Ground Round to the Waconia market."
Woelfel has a 20+-year history in the restaurant business, one that began when he became a 14-year-old dishwasher at the Country Kitchen Restaurant in Hutchinson. He would become the owner of that restaurant in 1999. In 2006, he purchased a Country Kitchen in Redwood Falls and added another Country Kitchen in Faribault in 2008.
Woelfel said he is very excited to join the Ground Round family.
"In addition to owning the Waconia franchise I will become a member owner of the Ground Round brand with other franchise owners throughout the Midwest and Northeast," he said. "As a member owner of the company I will have input into the direction and future of the Ground Round brand."
"The new Waconia restaurant will be our first newly designed prototype building and we are happy to have Matt Woelfel join our franchise owners in the Ground Round family" said Jack Crawford, President and CEO of the Ground Round Independent Owners Cooperative (IOC). "We’re excited to return to the Minneapolis market and welcome guests to see we’re not only back, but even better than they remember."
Kellie Sites, president of the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, said she and the rest of the chamber looked forward to being a cheerleader for the Ground Round. She noted that citizens consistently request more food options and restaurants in local surveys.
"For the past year, I’ve been asked a thousand times, ‘when is that Ground Round going to open?’ We’re super excited to have you. Congratulations," she said.
Jim Nash, Mayor of Waconia, echoed the feedback about citizens wanting more restaurants in the city.
"People want a restaurant of this type," he said. "If you want my advice, get ready, it’s going to be busy."
Clark Miller, one of the owners of the AmericInn, said they are thrilled to have Woelfel and the Ground Round set up shop by the hotel.
"It’s the perfect thing for Waconia and the hotel," he said, noting that hotel guests often ask if there are any restaurants they can walk to for a meal or a drink.
Construction has begun with plans for a November opening.
The approximately $2 million project is receiving some city aid in the form of $397,000 in TIF and abatement through a pay-as-you-go program that was approved last fall. As the restaurant pays its property taxes, it will receive a portion of those taxes back up to the $397,000 to help pay for the project.
The project also received two $75,000 loans (one to Woelfel, one to Waconia Mill IV, the group that owns and operates the AmericInn and owns the land where the Ground Round will be located). The property also qualifies for approximately $15,000 through a city sewer trunk credit program.