The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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September 14, 2013

End of the buffet line for Applewood

Longtime Applewood restaurant closing

MANKATO — The place that's hosted countless wedding receptions and parties, held weekend buffets and even seen a few golf balls bounce off its roof will be serving its last meal soon.

"We've got 44 years in doing this. It's time," Harry Musser said.

At the end of December, he and his wife, Wendy, will close Applewood restaurant and put the business up for sale. If there are no buyers, the building will be razed and the land divided into eight or so housing lots.

Musser said it's been a good run but admits changes have made destination restaurants like theirs less popular than in the past.

"There aren't many like it anymore. They're all either downtown or up on the hill. People used to like to get in the car and drive a while and go out to eat, but things change."

Musser said the heydays of their restaurant careers were when they ran Harry's Hofbrauhaus in the Burton Hotel, which stood near where the Veteran's Memorial Bridge comes into Mankato. His parents ended up with that business through some bold entrepreneurship by Harry's brother and sister.

The Musser children grew up working in their parents' restaurants, first in Mason City and then Austin. When Harry's two siblings went to college in Mankato in 1963 they stopped at the Burton Hotel to use the restroom. They saw a beautiful restaurant with satin tablecloths and fine china.

"They asked if they were having a banquet or something and the guy said, 'No, the restaurant's been closed for a year,'" Harry said. "So my brother and sister leased it and ran it while they went to college."

When their father's restaurant in Austin was damaged by fire, the family moved to Mankato and ran the hotel restaurant, with Harry and his mother running it after his father died.

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