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Harvest Thyme Bistro changes hands

The couple who launched Harvest Thyme Bistro in 2009 has sold the downtown Wadena eatery to their landlords.

E-Enterprises LLP, a Wadena-based building management firm that helped develop the restaurant, took over ownership Tuesday from Derek and Shari Olson. The company owns the Bernauer Building at 114 Jefferson Street, which is also home to An Open Book and The ArtsPlace gallery.

"I refused to let it close," said David Evert, principal for E-Enterprises. "I look at this as a tremendous community asset and the finest accomplishment I've participated in in my whole life."

The arrangement, Evert said, is intended to provide "continuity" as the company recruits a new owner-operator for the long term.

It would be a good investment for prospective restaurateurs, he said. "(The Bistro's) been financially successful since its first year ... The people in Wadena have made this successful."

Evert said that apart from improved hours and a renewed commitment to buying ingredients from local producers, very little will change during the transition. The chef, barista and dishwasher have been asked to stay.

Over the next month, Evert plans to convene a focus group of regular customers to yield suggestions on how to improve.

Known for its gourmet coffee, variety of homemade soups and creative daily specials, the Bistro's motto is "'Inspired Eats from Locally Grown Food."

For last Friday's special, the chef served up pan-fried pork chops crusted with feta cheese atop a warm quinoa salad - a dish rarely found on central Minnesota menus.

"We tried to create an eatery that was not competing with other eateries in town ..." Evert said. "We wanted to create an eatery that provided a difference."

Dave Line of Wadena recognizes that difference.

"I just love the food," he said. "It's healthy and it's kind of unique."

As he sipped on an iced mocha, the former resident of Seattle said he also appreciates the gourmet coffee.

In a post on the Harvest Thyme Bistro Facebook page Saturday, Shari and Derek Olson announced their departure and thanked supporters.

"What we have experienced over the last 4 years has been a truly amazing journey, perhaps a story of providence and most importantly an amazing accomplishment," they wrote. "We are so grateful for the friends and customers who we have met and shared experiences with. We are happy the Bistro will continue to move into the future carrying the same inspiration it was started with. Enjoy the food in front of you, the friend next to you and the path it will move you to in the future."