Duluth restaurant owned by Brandon man is sold for $1.5 millionDuluth’s Ground Round Restaurant – long a fixture in the Miller Hill Mall area — has been sold and will close on December 7.
By: By Steve Kuchera, Duluth News Tribune, Alexandria Echo Press
Editor’s note: The following story from the Duluth News Tribune has a local connection. The owner of the Ground Round Restaurant is Bill Klinefelter of Brandon.
Duluth’s Ground Round Restaurant – long a fixture in the Miller Hill Mall area — has been sold and will close on December 7.
Owner Bill Klinefelter declined to say who purchased the property and what their plans are for the 5,200-square-foot, 29-year-old building, which sits on 1.6 acres at 2102 Maple Grove Road.
The closure will end the jobs of about 40 employees.
“It’s never easy when you sell a business, because my crew here is my family,” Klinefelter said. “And my guests; we’ve made a lot of friends over the years.”
At lunch on a Monday, Klinefelter visited with regulars Joe and Regina Clark of Duluth, who will miss the restaurant and Klinefelter.
“He was always a pleasure,” Joe Clark said. “The service was good, and we enjoy the food.”
“Anytime we’re over here this is where we eat,” Regina Clark said.
Klinefelter had asked $1.8 million for the property. He received $1.5 million, he said. The two sides reached an agreement in mid-November and will sign sales papers on December 16. The restaurant will close at 11 p.m. December 7. An auction of the building’s contents will happen December 11.
Klinefelter quietly put the restaurant up for sale a couple of years ago. It nearly sold twice, once to a national retailer who was going to raze the building and build another, the other time to a small restaurant chain.
Efforts to sell the restaurant went into high gear earlier this year as Klinefelter turned 61. He wants to retire at 62. A resident of Brandon, Klinefelter commutes to Duluth weekly.
“Bill has been a pleasure to work with,” said Michelle Hicks, who has been a server for nearly two years at the restaurant.
“I loved working here,” she said. “I’m hoping I can find another company that runs as efficiently and as gracefully.”
Cook Bob Hill, who has worked at Ground Round for four years, feels much the same.
“I’ve learned a lot from Bill,” Hill said. “I hate to see him go. But I’m happy for him. He’s been in the business 47 years.”
Klinefelter started in the restaurant business at 15 as a cook and order taker at a McDonald’s restaurant. He bought the Duluth Ground Round in 2002. Klinefelter was one of 39 franchise owners who bought the Ground Round company when it was going through bankruptcy in 2004.
“I’ll still have my share in the corporation, but I’ll be a nonvoting member,” he said.
The Duluth News Tribune and the Echo Press are Forum Communications Company newspapers.