Renovated Castle Danger building to house two new businesses

Drivers traveling along the North Shore on State Highway 61 recently may have noticed some improvements being done to the building that shares a parking lot with the Rustic Inn Caf? in Castle Danger.

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Lakeview Liquor, next to Rustic Inn in Castle Danger, is slated to open just after the end of the year. Owner Tim Phillips has been making improvements to the property to beautify it and accomodate Castle Danger Woodworks, which also will have a showroom in the building. (Jamey Malcomb / Lake County News-Chronicle)

Drivers traveling along the North Shore on State Highway 61 recently may have noticed some improvements being done to the building that shares a parking lot with the Rustic Inn Café in Castle Danger.

The building housed Fat and Happy’s, a thrift store, until it closed earlier this year and Tim Phillips purchased the property with plans to open a liquor store - Lakeview Liquor - at that location. A second business, Castle Danger Woodworks, also will open in the renovated building.

“I’ve been coming up into the area as a visitor for a while and was aware of the location,” Phillips said. “I always liked the location as far as its proximity to a lot of the campgrounds, hotels, trails and activities that the tourism is based on. It just so happened that I had talked to them (the previous owners) over the years and this year he just decided it was time for him to retire, and the business portion of it was no longer a necessity to purchase with the property.”

Phillips, who also owns Riverview Liquor in Otsego, Minn., had the liquor license for the new store approved last month by the Lake County Board of Commissioners.

Since purchasing the property earlier this year, Phillips has been busy renovating the building to make it suitable for the new businesses. He has added wood siding, rebuilt the deck surrounding the building and added an awning.


“It was just to change the appearance and make it fit in with the Rustic and the other places that look so much more north woods,” Phillips said. “That was one of the ways to get the support of the local businesses and the board; we let them know that we were going to beautify it.”

Phillips says he plans for Lakeview Liquor to have a greater variety of products than the municipal liquor stores also located along Highway 61 on the North Shore, and will focus on selling craft beer and wines.

To keep costs down, Phillips said he will be personally managing and spending as much time as possible at the store. He says he hopes to start up wine and craft beer clubs where people can come in and try a few different varieties from a certain vineyard or brewery, and take some home at a slightly discounted price.

In addition to the exterior changes, Phillips also is adding a partition wall, getting rid of the old double-door entrance and creating two separate entrances to the building to accommodate Castle Danger Woodworks.

Castle Danger Woodworks will have a showroom and gift shop to show off the cabinets and furniture built by local craftsman Scott Berglund, and smaller crafts for the gift shop made by Troy Hansen. The pair had considered purchasing the building from the owners of Fat and Happy’s as a workshop and to advertise their business, but they were unsure they needed so much space.

“Tim bought the building and said, ‘Hey, I don’t need the whole building for my liquor store,’ and we asked if we could lease out a corner of it,” Hansen said.

Hansen said he envisions the showroom as a place for diners at Rustic Inn to visit while waiting for a table and purchase a gift or souvenir from the North Shore, as well as showing off the more expensive furniture and cabinets built by Berglund. In addition, Hansen, who also is in the wine business, said he will be doing some demonstrations with wine tastings on the new porch during the non-winter months.

Phillips said he had hoped to have the liquor store open for the holiday season, but now thinks the business will open sometime after the new year. He said he was aware that the winter months at the store could be a little tough, but he is prepared for the ups and downs of a seasonal business and thinks it won’t be long before the store is profitable.


“I’m firmly convinced that by keeping my overhead down and carrying a bit more variety that the place will succeed,” he said. “Like I say, I’m at a point in my life if it doesn’t make a ton of money, that’s OK. I love it up there and it’s kind of a semi-retirement for me.”

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