The Shed puts the pizazz in pizza
LAKEFIELD -- Anyone with a taste for sauerkraut pizza, barnyard burgers with fried eggs on top or more ordinary fare such as steak and cheese sandwiches, buffalo wings, quesadillas and chicken strips can find what they're hungry for at the Shed, located on Highway 86 in Lakefield.
The Shed opened Jan. 21, and since then owners Gordy and Lynda Rademacher of Lakefield have been busy serving up pizzas, burgers and drinks to everyone who walks into the former office building, brightly repainted with Vikings and Bears team colors.
"And... boom! It was continuous, nonstop. I didn't even know what day it was," Gordy said of the first few days the restaurant was open.
For example, in a single night, the Rademachers sold 42 pizzas, some to be eaten in the restaurant and others to be picked up by hungry Lakefielders. The Shed is a combination burger joint, pizza place and sports bar, offering a wide variety of options for dinner, including a children's menu.
The Rademachers decided it was important to diversify their options in order to stay financially viable, and many people they told about their new venture were surprised they were going to try it in the difficult economic climate.
"Most people said 'Are you guys flippin' nuts?' We felt Lakefield had a need for this," Lynda explained. "People had approached us and said 'When are you going to open something up here?'"
So far, the Shed has been tremendously successful, drawing a very positive response from people who come from all over southwest Minnesota.
"It's been more than awesome," Lynda said. "I think people love it."
Eleven employees, including six full-timers, work at the Shed, plus the Rademachers. Three full-time cooks are needed to keep the food coming, and most of the meat sold at the Shed comes from the local butcher shop.
"It's something fresh and new and sports-oriented," Lynda said. "You can bring your kids in here and have a beer."
Gordy farmed west of Lakefield for most of his life, along with his brother and father, but then decided to check out other jobs. He ended up managing a food place in Iowa, where he met his wife, Lynda.
Lynda has been in the bar and restaurant business since she was 18, and had been part owner of the Main Event in Spirit Lake, Iowa, at Village West.
It took the Rademachers about two years to get the Shed going, from checking out possible locations to deciding on a location and purchasing it. Although the building strongly resembles a shed, the business's name actually came before its location -- the Rademachers wanted to use the slogan "Head for the Shed."
Getting the Shed ready for business took about four months of work, with many friends and family members pitching in. The Rademachers have five children and three grandchildren, many of whom helped get the business ready, from destruction to construction to putting on the finishing touches.
Previously, the Shed was a satellite office for a farm store. As such, it had to be gutted until it was nothing but a shell of a building, and then the kitchen, bathrooms and new walls had to be put in before it could be painted. The Rademachers watched carefully online and at auctions to get the best prices on kitchen and dining room equipment.
Then came the extensive permitting processes necessary to start a restaurant, with the Rademachers working with the state of Minnesota and the city of Lakefield. Though they were apprehensive, they found the city very easy to work with and helpful, and the economic development office in Worthington helped too.
So far, the most popular items on the menu are the pizzas and the barnyard burgers, named by Lynda, because they include pig in the form of Canadian bacon, cow in the form of cheese and chicken in the form of a fried egg. Another popular item is a pizza nicknamed "the Squealer," which includes Canadian bacon, beef, tomato and sauerkraut.
"I've eaten it forever like that," Lynda said. "I just like sauerkraut... it brings out the flavor of the Canadian bacon and the beef."
The Shed is open from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, although it sometimes closes earlier on quiet weekdays.