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Avoca MLS under new management

Scott Burger (left) and new manager Jonelle Loehlein stand behind the counter at the Avoca Municipal Liquor Store. (Kari Lucin/Daily Globe)

AVOCA -- She might be the new manager of the Avoca Municipal Liquor Store, but Jonelle Loehlein of Slayton has already been working there for nine months, and she's certain of one thing -- it's fun work.

"I enjoy the bar life. I like the people who come in," Loehlein said. "You have a good time with customers, and I like it when the older people come in and tell stories."

Loehlein officially took over as manager on March 1. The on- and off-sale liquor store also has a brand-new assistant manager, Scott Burger of Avoca, who started working at the bar the same day Loehlein became its manager.

She graduated from St. Cloud Technical High School and for two years owned the bar in Iona. Loehlein tried other jobs, but found she missed the bar work and decided to get back into it. She started working part-time at the bar before applying for the manager position in January.

"(It's) a little bit of shift in responsibility, but nothing I can't handle," Loehlein said. "Everybody's been really good and receptive and congratulating."

Loehlein said she enjoys the way things at the Avoca establishment change every day.

"It's not monotonous. You never know what's going to happen," Burger agreed.

The bar's clientele is mostly local people from Avoca and surrounding towns, but because it is on a major highway, sometimes total strangers drop by. And then there are the visitors to town who haven't been to the bar in decades, and love to talk about how things have changed or stayed the same through the years.

Generally, about 20 or 30 people show up at the bar each night, with even more on weekends. The Avoca Municipal Liquor Store is the town's major hang-out, serving burgers, chicken strips and other fried foods, as well as pizza. It offers pool and dart games, as well as a very popular bowling video game.

Beer remains the most popular drink, although Loehlein, Burger and the four part-time workers do have a copy of "The Liquor Bible" in case anyone orders anything fancy. Usually, when they do, they know how it's made anyway, Loehlein said.

She doesn't intend to change much about the place, but Loehlein and Burger both hope to put in horseshoe pits and a beanbag toss outside the bar during the summer.

"Come meet new people and have fun," Burger urged.

The Avoca Municipal Liquor Store is open from 10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.