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The Uptown owner thanks community

To the city of Wadena and surrounding communities:

JD Formanek and Co. Inc (Jim and Traci Formanek) have sold The Uptown to new owners Adam and Kyle Hagen. Collectively we are very excited for the next chapter in The Uptown's over 40 year history. The final paperwork will be completed on May 25 and I will be closing for inventory and removal of personal property on the night of Friday, May 16.

When Traci and I moved to town in 1994 we knew this was the area we wanted to raise a family and work in. Traci works as a registered nurse in the Lakewood Health System and I started as the high school art teacher in the Wadena school district after Bill Burns' retirement, which was big shoes to fill as Bill was the art teacher for over 30 years and a great man I was lucky enough to spend time with. Many people took us under their wings and helped us through a lot of our early years in Wadena, which are things we will always be grateful for.

After 15 years of teaching and running my own part time art business called Formanek Designs as well as cooking for Jim Maas at the Uptown and raising our two beautiful daughters who are now teenagers, I took on the task of full ownership at The Uptown. Jim and Kim Maas took a café and turned it into a casual dining and sports bar upon their moving back to Wadena before Jim decided to go into the sales side of the food business. It was perfect timing as I had burned out in education and didn't want to be the teacher that just hung on for the sake of retirement. It wasn't good for myself, my family or the students sitting in front of me daily. With both feet I jumped into The Uptown and quit teaching one week before the tornado destroyed our school - an omen I guess you could say.

Ownership of The Uptown has been a challenge for my family and I over the last three years as my art design business now named Pro Skinz and Design has exploded. My work days start at 8 a.m. and end well after 1 a.m. Sleep is something that is not in my vocabulary. Again, not fair to my family, friends or either business. Adam and Kyle Hagen grew up in the area and have been in Bemidji over the last eight years or more and were looking to move back to the Wadena area with their families and kids and the timing was again perfect for The Uptown. They have assured me that The Uptown name will stay as they love the history behind this great building. Their plans are great and I can't wait for the Wadena area to see how well they will continue the tradition of casual dining and great food.

Pro Skinz and Design will be my full time job starting May 25. Art has been in my blood since I was very young when I would spend summer months at my home town local artist's shop learning the skill of hand painting signs, airbrushing and pin striping. Pro Skinz has now expanded into vehicles wraps, signs and design many of which the Wadena and surrounding communities have embraced and supported through return jobs. More expansion is soon coming. This spring I have even taken on jobs from over 300 miles away. Customers appreciate the dedication in any businesses and my goal is to always hit the ball out of the park, which was something I can't do when running two full time businesses.

I take great pride in everything that I do. Sometimes to a fault. I am a very passionate person that tries to please everyone and admit that The Uptown has taken a back seat to my true love of art. Creation of an idea from my mind onto paper, into the computer and onto whatever media I am using gives me a huge rush of satisfaction. The Uptown did well with homemade soups and menu options over the last 15 years that I have worked here and in ownership. However, that same crossroad that I stopped at in 2010 where I had to decide to keep teaching and be unhappy or to change is now in front of me again. Keep owning two businesses and have my family and both businesses suffer or dedicate myself.

My parents' retirement and moving to Wadena almost a year ago is a great asset to my life. Being an only child and nearly losing my father to a heart attack 15 years ago has made the bond I have with them paramount. Having two beautiful daughters nearly 13 and 16 years old and my loving wife not know where I am because of work so much is not fair. Something I have not always acknowledged as a workaholic. Time goes to fast and it is time for me to turn the keys of The Uptown over to great family men in Adam and Kyle Hagen, who are moving both families to Wadena and for me to spend more time with my kids, my wife, my friends and my parents.

Jim, Traci, Mikena and Josie Formanek thank the Wadena area for the support of The Uptown over the last five years. The positive and the critical support has molded all of us at The Uptown. My employees over the years I can honestly say are friends, some distant but some very close. My customers that demanded certain meals on certain days and all of those great supporters I will dearly miss. Swing by the Pro Skinz shop behind our house at 1021 1st St. SW and say hello. You will see me much more active in my parents', wife's and children's lives, which is more important to me than anything.