Jessie Grangruth likes cooking good food and he’s hoping people will enjoy that food when he opens a new business later this spring in Wadena.

In recent years he’s noticed a need for a few more food options in the Wadena area and rather than wait for someone else to open a new restaurant, he decided it was time he did it himself.

“It’s been a dream of mine for many years,” Grangruth said. He was looking for the right place for the last couple years.

In the fall of 2019, he happened to find the owners of the Whiskey Corner Saloon, Matthew and Lindsay Wedde, were looking to sell. It was a good location with options to make it into something he and his wife Shannon could be proud of.

So, at the end of 2019, the two purchased the saloon. Jessie has since started gutting out the building and this week started removing the siding while replacing the windows. As he tears out the walls, he’s had the help of his brother, Travis, sealing up the structure with spray foam insulation. The main entry of the building and the area which will become the main dining area is the oldest part of the structure, about 95 years old, according to Grangruth.

Grangruth has big plans for the business which he said will have more of a focus on the food than the booze, a switch from the previous ownership. He wants it to be a place where the family can come enjoy a meal. Jessie and Shannon’s kids, Morgan and Logan, will likely be some of the youth enjoying the food.

“We’re gonna have good quality food, that’ll be the No. 1 priority,” Grangruth said. Not quite a steakhouse, but there will be steaks, burgers and ribs, and the owners plan to use locally raised beef to serve out of their brand new kitchen. Look for Jessie to be behind the scenes making sure that food comes out delicious as he said he enjoys doing the cooking.

Jessie Grangruth has been working to update the interior and exterior of the former Whiskey Corner Saloon in Wadena. He's making plans for a May opening.
Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal
Jessie Grangruth has been working to update the interior and exterior of the former Whiskey Corner Saloon in Wadena. He's making plans for a May opening. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal

This business is, in a way, a chance for Grangruth to slow down. He also has a construction business, JSM Contracting, where he specializes in log cabin restoration. That business is based out of his home just outside of Wadena. He still plans to continue that construction business but the new business will be the priority. Shannon will continue working for the city of Wadena.

The business could be open by May if all the paperwork moves along. While he waits for that, he continues to remodel the interior and exterior of the building. Grangruth is excited about the porch area, which he said will be completely covered so users can enjoy the space during the warmer months whether it rains or shines. Under that covering will be gas fire pits to add to the inviting atmosphere.

“We’ve got such long winters, when we finally get (summer), it’s gonna be nice to sit outside,” Grangruth said. “I think we’re gonna try to do some really neat stuff out there when that patio is done.”

The business will be quite different with a country feel and more focus on dining. Owners are still unsure what to name the restaurant. Whatever the name, the business will bring some new lunch and dinner additions to the Wadena business district. Look for more updates on the progress in the Pioneer Journal or watch the remodel at the corner of Aldrich Ave. SE and First Street in Wadena, next to Everything Under the Sun.

The previous owners of the saloon business were running the Longbranch Saloon on Hwy 210 in Brainerd. According to the business website, that business is now closed permanently. This was previously Hassies until the Weddes purchased it in May 2019 and made the name change. The Weddes owned the Wadena business for about seven years. They did not respond to requests for comments.