The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

October 30, 2009

Mankato Green Mill to close

Majority owner says non-franchised restaurant will open in its place

MANKATO — The Mankato Green Mill will close for good tonight, but its majority owner said a different restaurant will be opening there.

“The restaurant business in general is a battle, and with the economy, it was just time to close,” Larry Hoffrogge said.

“It was a tough decision, largely due to the staff we had and having to let them know we’re closing. We had some very good staff people.”

He said another restaurant, a non-franchise one, will open in the space, details of which he will announce in a couple of weeks.

“I think this is a great location. There isn’t another real restaurant in the area.”

Hoffrogge said they learned that daily attention was needed to run a full-service restaurant.

“A restaurant is a hands-on, day-to-day business, which we didn’t expect when we went in.”

He said he informed the staff of 40 of the closing about a week ago. “We didn’t want to wait until Saturday night and tell them. We wanted to give them some time to start looking for something else.”

Hoffrogge said anyone with a gift card purchased at the Mankato restaurant will be able to use them at any Green Mill location.

Earlier this year, Hoffrogge filed a lawsuit against Green Mill’s franchise owners, saying he was misled when he bought rights to the business name. Green Mill denied the claims.

The lawsuit said the business has not seen the sales that were promised by Green Mill. Even in 2007, before the recession, Hoffrogge said Green Mill projected gross sales of $2.5 million, but they only reached $1.6 million.

That lawsuit was recently settled with the terms not disclosed. “We did get it settled and we accomplished what we wanted to accomplish,” he said.

Hoffrogge also owns a housing and commercial development firm and other Mankato businesses.

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