Ben and Mary Anderson are making exciting changes while still honoring the proud history of Eddie’s Restaurant.
THE OLD AND THE NEW
The building, constructed in the 1800s, began operating as the Railway Café in the early 1900s. In the 1950s, new owners named Ed and Edna, decided to change the name to Eddie’s Restaurant. Ownership of the community staple bar and café changed hands a couple more times until 2022, when Ben and Mary were delighted to become the new co-owners.
They are keeping the “modern, rustic supper club” vibe alive at the establishment by offering traditional cocktails like an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. The décor salutes Eddie’s history by including its old newspaper clippings and blueprints as well as historic legal deeds. Ben and Mary thought it was important to keep customer favorites on the menu, but also added new dishes.
Some of the new offerings include lighter appetizers and vegetarian options. The wild rice burger is currently a very big seller! Mary makes homemade soups for the restaurant and her mom, Peggy Pollock, creates homemade desserts. Customers love the lavender lemon cake and chocolate espresso cake!
They also added hours of business by staying open an hour later in the evening and adding Sundays. The staff has grown from 12 to 22 employees since Ben and Mary took over. They were so happy to keep all the existing staff on board.
Mary laughed recalling some of the setbacks along their way to success. “We had a main water line break on a Friday night, and then more bad news came when they discovered dirt in the line. Luckily, the grease in the line was causing the problem, and not a complete line collapse as we first feared,” she said.
They also dealt with troubles under the bar. “The main drain line started leaking and had to be replaced in the first couple weeks of owning the place,” she recalled. This led to the need for a new sink, dishwasher and kegerator. And trouble kept coming.
“Our point-of-sale (POS) system went down and had to be completely replaced. Then we had a pipe burst in the garage. It seemed like everything that could go wrong, did, and within the first four months. But we like to view the setbacks as blessings in disguise that led to upgrades and needed improvements,” Mary said.
The couple thanked lots of local businesses, like Benson Electric Company, for their hard work. Ben credited Belknap Plumbing & Heating & Cooling for all their work with the under-bar repairs. “When digging up that water line, Kimmes Construction was there the whole time” Mary said. They also sang the praises of the UW-Superior Small Business Development Center (SBDC), where they met Center Director Andy Donahue.
Andy said, “Ben and Mary came to me with a vision of what they would like to do and how they were going to get there. I enjoyed their big picture thinking and their development of a phased approach for purchasing, renovating and expanding the Eddie’s name, all while honoring the nostalgia of its past. When working with me and our resource partners, Ben and Mary were open to many changes concerning how they could be set up for success from day one.”
“Andy was super great! He was so instrumental in helping us to obtaining capital funding for the purchase of the business,” Ben said. “We were previously declined for a loan in 2021, but Andy’s guidance on financial projections helped us get an SBA-backed loan through the Superior Choice Credit Union and that was able to fund 90% of our purchase.” They also received funding through the Entrepreneur Fund which helped with things like startup costs and food costs.
Accomplishments with UW-Superior SBDC
- Capital funding
- Financial projections
THE NOW AND THE FUTURE
This couple simply loves operating Eddie’s for many reasons. “The relationship with the regulars and the other customers is so nice. We have had so much support and encouragement from them. We also really enjoy the work/life balance. We have three small children and family time is important to us, so it is nice to have more control over our own work schedules,” Mary shared. “The kids also love being in the space with us!”
The pride in their restaurant is truly apparent, and they look forward to even bigger goals for Eddie’s in the future. They would love to establish a mobile food trailer and enhance their catering business. “Our plan is to finish the physical changes needed by August 2023 and then move onto other dreams and goals,” Mary said.