Ready to retire, owner puts Duluth Ground Round up for saleIt’s not competition from trendy new restaurants in the Miller Hall Mall area that prompted Bill Klinefelter to put the Ground Round Restaurant up for sale.
By: Candace Renalls, Duluth News Tribune
It’s not competition from trendy new restaurants in the Miller Hall Mall area that prompted Bill Klinefelter to put the Ground Round Restaurant up for sale.
“After the newness wears off, the regular customers come back,” Klinefelter said.
Nor is it the way Klinefelter has lived out of a motel room during the week for nine years to oversee the restaurant.
“I don’t mind the drive,” Klinefelter said, who commutes from his home in west central Minnesota each week. “It’s not wearing.”
It’s just that at age 61, Klinefelter is ready to retire.
“I always had a goal to retire when I’m 62,” he said. “I want to retire.”
So the Ground Round, long a fixture at 2102 Maple Grove Road in Duluth, is for sale, though it’s open for business as usual. The asking price: $1.8 million. The 5,200-square-foot restaurant, built in 1981, sits on 1.6 acres.
“It’s the largest lot in the area,” said Beth Wentzlaff, president of CMRA Realty, which is handling the sale.
Actually, the property has been for sale under the radar for some time.
“It’s been quietly on the market for about two years,” Wentzlaff said. “We were marketing it to other restaurant chains and restaurateurs out of Minneapolis and Chicago.”
It was 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, she said.
Both deals fell through.
But with Klinefelter’s retirement goal approaching, efforts to sell the property shifted into high gear. A large “For Sale” sign was posted outside the building. It’s also being advertised on local television and in publications in large metro areas, Wentzlaff said.
Klinefelter has 46 years in the restaurant business behind him. He started at age 15 as a cook and order taker at a McDonald’s restaurant. He rose to management, then ownership of two McDonald’s franchises in Kansas before selling them and buying the Ground Round franchise in Duluth in 2002.
Each Monday, he leaves his home in Brandon, Minn., about 12:30 a.m. and drives four hours to Duluth, gets cleaned up in his motel room and is at the restaurant at 6 a.m. He works for four days before driving back home on Thursday nights.
He’ll continue to do that until the restaurant is sold.
While he would prefer that the business continue as a Ground Round restaurant, the next owner could choose to put anything there.
“They can turn it into anything, from a restaurant to retail to — you name it,” Klinefelter said. “They can remodel the building into anything they like.”
But even when it’s sold, Klinefelter will have ties to Ground Round. When the chain was going through bankruptcy in 2004, Klinefelter was one of 39 franchise owners who bought the company. And he plans to keep his part ownership in the corporation.