Gamper's under new ownership
It's been two months since Joe and DeeDee Jirovec signed the purchase agreement to buy Gamper's Food, Liquor and Bowling, and the couple and their daughter, Hannah, 12, have had a good taste of what owning a restaurant means.
"The business has been great, the people have been great and the crew has been great," Joe said in a recent interview.
When asked if there were any surprises, he said that things come up daily but that is to be expected.
This is the first restaurant that the Jirovecs have owned. Joe and his sister have owned a currency exchange business in Minneapolis for 13 years, he explained.
"Those are check cashing stores," said Joe. "We had two stores in Minneapolis."
Greg Gamst, the former owner, explained how the purchase came about.
"During the last bowling season, they were bowling here," he said. "I brought it up to them. He was in a business already; but he was not looking for a business then.
"But then he sold his business in Minneapolis and purchased this business. They already have this mastered.
"It was time for us to retire. We have had the business for sale for two years."
Greg's wife, Vicki, said that she enjoys retirement.
"I am loving retirement," she said. "But I miss the staff and the customers."
Greg said that he has been in the bar and restaurant business for 47 years. He worked in St. Paul early in his career, and then he had the Red Oak Inn for five years until he sold it to his brother, John. Greg and Vicki have owned Gamper's for 34 years.
Joe, DeeDee and Hannah live in Rutledge, and he was the mayor of Rutledge for six years.
DeeDee has been working for Phase in Sandstone and was in charge of the recycling services.
"The adults with disabilities would clean out the recycling sheds around the county, and we also had commercial routes," said DeeDee.
But her last day was January 3; DeeDee will be joining Joe in the business as a bartender.
Their daughter, Hannah, also helps out at the restaurant busing dishes when she isn't playing or practicing for the Rebels girls basketball team or doing homework. Hannah is a student at Willow River High School.
Greg and Vicki plan to stay in the area, they said.
"We have kids and grandkids here," said Greg. "And we love the community. It will take us a while to figure out this retirement thing. If Joe needs a hand sometime, I'll be available.
"Joe and I worked together for a month before he bought the business. It was a smooth transition."
"We'll be around to answer questions," said Vicki.
Even though Gamper was Greg's nickname and the nicknames of their sons, the name of the business will remain the same, at least for the time being, said Joe.
Greg and Vicki have already done some traveling in the short time since the Jirovecs took over the business. They spent several weeks in Arizona for a family emergency, and they took their kids and grandkids to the indoor water park at Wisconsin Dells during Christmas week.
"I still worry about the business," said Greg. "There is a lot to do. They are very fussy to make it really nice here. I'm sure that they will be very successful. They will take care of the customers.
"We miss our customers and our employees. Many of our employees have been here a long time. They are very loyal. We have had many good employees over the years."
"We are pleased to be in Moose Lake," said Joe. "We invite everyone to come and meet us.
"We also want to thank Greg and Vicki. They have been great sellers of the business. They have helped us a lot."
Gamper's Food, Liquor and Bowling is located just a mile south of Moose Lake on County Highway 61. For more information, call Gamper's at (218) 485-8272.