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Scanlon strip club among businesses to be demolished, replaced with Kwik Trip, new liquor store

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Scanlon will lose a cherished restaurant and its often controversial strip club under a plan to revitalize a long stretch of land at the Interstate 35 interchange with Carlton County Highway 45.

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Tom Romundstad and Jodi Polo, owners of Gramma Polo's Bottle Shoppe, confirmed this week that their business -- along with The Pantry Restaurant and Sugar Daddys strip club -- will be razed to make room for a new Polo's liquor store and a Kwik Trip gas and convenience store.

Scanlon City Council member Jim Pratt said residents are "sad to see the Pantry go" but overall are excited to see the new development.

Romundstad said that some employees at the Pantry have been hired at Trapper Pete's, the bar and restaurant next door. He said the replacement liquor store will be larger and more energy efficient. Gas pumps for the new Kwik Trip will be placed where the strip club is now, with the store to be built where the liquor store currently stands.

Romundstad said final paperwork on the plan is expected to be finished by the end of March, with demolition of the Pantry soon after to make room for the new liquor store that is slated to be up by early July. The current Polo's will remain open until the new store is ready.

Pantry owners Colleen and Victor Viebahn were reluctant to sell but as plans developed they changed their minds.

"Everything has been so hectic," Colleen said. The couple closed the restaurant Friday and will soon have an auction to clear out the restaurant.

"It's been good to us," Victor said of the 11 years the couple ran the business.

"We've had some wonderful compliments from a lot of people who say they hate to see one of the few remaining family restaurants go," Colleen said. "But this was an opportunity we simply couldn't pass up."

Before the Viebahns, the Pantry was operated by Loren and Gene Bryant for 25 years.

Kwik Trip is moving into the Northland with eight stores planned for this year. The Wisconsin company wants develop six to eight more by the end of 2015. Typical stores employ about 35 people.

Colleen and Victor Viebahn have owned the Pantry for the past 11 years, and before that it was operated by Loren and Gene Bryant for 25 years.

"Everything has been so hectic," Colleen Viebahn said Wednesday and they prepared to close the restaurant for the final time on Friday. "We've had some wonderful compliments from a lot of people who say they hate to see one of the few remaining family restaurants go, but this was an opportunity we simply couldn't pass up."

Sugar Daddys opened as Centerfolds in 1997 to regular protests from community members. The city of Scanlon spent about $40,000 in an unsuccessful fight to close the strip club. It eventually changed ownership to become Sugar Daddys, under a franchise group with similar clubs across the state as well as Pure Pleasure adult stores, including one in Hermantown.

Pratt said the strip club closed during winter months and there wasn't much of a struggle to get the owners to sell. Talk about the changes began last fall, he said.

Romundstad has appealed to the city council to have the name of Highway 45 changed to Scanlon Drive. It was once called Scanlon Way, but another street now bears that name.

Reaction to the idea has been positive, with Connie Christenson, Carlton County's director of economic development, saying "Scanlon Drive is an excellent marketing and branding tool that will bring revitalization."

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