Theisens open firefighter-themed bar and restaurant on U.S. 10
Bluffton volunteer firefighter Tim Theisen used to say that if his town's fire department got a new hall, he would have to turn the old building into a bar and restaurant.
Something close to that has happened: after Tim and his wife, Christina Theisen, purchased the former Country Manor property on U.S. Highway 10 west of the Wadena city limits in 2011, they remodeled everything and painted the exterior deep red. First they finished the Firehouse Apartments, and finally in early June they opened the Firehouse Bar and Grille.
The inside of the restaurant is also painted dark red and decorated with a vintage firefighting theme.
"We robbed our collection from at home, and went to antique stores, and went shopping online," Christina said.
The Firehouse has a full bar, and also serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is open Monday through Saturday and opens 6 a.m. They have a DJ on Friday nights.
The Trackside Lounge and Restaurant used to occupy the building attached to the old Country Manor, and the vacant area underwent extensive remodeling to become The Firehouse Bar and Grille.
Christina said they ripped off the floors down to the original existing flooring, and they also put in new sheetrock, windows, vinyl, roof, doors, light fixtures, tables and chairs. The kitchen has new appliances, and only one shelf in the kitchen is the same.
They said business so far has been great, and better than expected.
Amanda Weller is the head cook and restaurant manager.
"She is the one that helped us brainstorm everything on the menu and helped us get the kitchen up and running," Christina said. "She was the brains behind the operation in the kitchen."
Originally from New York Mills, Weller said she gets ideas for menu items through experimenting, customers giving suggestions, other employees, the Food Network and what she likes at home.
Weller said it was not a hard choice to take the job at The Firehouse.
"I've known Tim and Christina for many, many years," she said.
For the Theisens, owning their own restaurant has been "a little more work than a guy thinks," Tim said.
Christina agreed that they needed to be there more than expected. They continue to run the Firehouse Apartments, which she said was relatively easy.
The Theisens are not entirely new to business ownership, as Tim also runs Theisen Construction.