Many small communities and towns have a focal point were citizens gather with friends, family and neighbors to socialize, perhaps have a meal and a beverage. These locations serve as a gathering place for all manner of events. It may be a birthday party or the celebration of an anniversary. Regardless, it is a geographic point known to all, even perhaps as a rendezvous for snowmobilers, hunters and fishermen.
The wide spot in Highway 48, eight miles east of Hinckley, known as Cloverdale is no exception.
For various reasons, the patronage at the existing tavern, known as Tanks Tavern, had fallen over the past decade.
So, the opening of the tavern in Cloverdale under new ownership generated much interest and excitement, primarily because it had been purchased by a well-known local couple, Robert and Heather Ladd. Not only that, the new owners renamed it the Bear Creek Tavern, after a well known nearby stream.
When asked their reason for purchasing the tavern, Robert said, “First, I love this area. I grew up here. We purchased it, of course, to make a living, but equally important was the idea that we would provide the community with a social center for area residents."
Heather echoed his comments and added, “We are overwhelmed by the outpouring of love, support and excitement this has brought to us and Cloverdale."
Local resident Shirley Custard said, “It is so great to be able to go back in and feel welcome. Those two amazing people will do fabulous." Another said, “This is going to be a great place for our family to get together with friends and neighbors."
The new owners said the menu will remain basically the same, but with additions like soup and sandwiches coming soon. The kitchen is known for outstanding burgers.
Robert believes social media sites like Facebook are ruining face-to-face interactions. “Our goal is to provide a welcoming atmosphere where people can come and talk, interact and have fun,” he said.
In addition to menu changes, a Halloween costume party is planned, as is a big buck contest for deer hunters. When learning of the big buck contest, long-time resident Mike Wolter said, "This will be just like the old days. That place will be packed the night before deer season and probably all season long."
Signs of success are already evident as witnessed by running out of a week's supply of food in three days, a jam-packed parking lot for the Vikings game on Monday night football and information requests to accommodate events like birthday parties and karaoke.
One couple from the Cities had already learned of the new ownership and stopped in to see what all the hubbub was about. They are coming back and so are many others who were interviewed.
As a nonresident, it may be difficult to understand the buzz of enthusiasm and excitement the new ownership generated. But it is real, it is tangible, it is in the air. Area residents are solidly behind the new owners. This writer experienced the enthusiasm and joy and is going back for more.