By: Jennifer Bateman | Tuesday, March 10, 2015
As many of you know, the restaurants Companeros and Dorset House in Dorset, which is a little town just outside of Park Rapids, MN burned to the ground in September of 2014. It's been unknown what the future of the restaurants would be. Yesterday the owner, Rick Kempnich, gave an update on Companeros Facebook page, which I have copied below. You can read more about it or follow them on Facebook for continued updates. It looks like the show will go on, just not right away.
Until next time ~~ Jennifer
"This is another hard letter to write, we have been through a lot of ups and downs and hopes and depressions in our slow decision making process since the fire that destroyed Companeros and the Dorset House. After looking at all the options, with me being 65 and thinking of working my way out of managing full time at Companeros in a few years or so, it seems that selling now might be the best. The main factors are that I am not very experienced in building, and I am thinking that if I am planning on working my way out by 70, it seems it should be the person (people) who are going to make a new career of it that should be building the building of their dreams, not me building the building of mine. It is thanks to all of you and our old maze of buildings that we can afford to do this, and it is with a heavy heart that we are making this decision, but it does feel right. We love Companeros and the Dorset House and our time there with all of you. We will still be very involved in Dorset as we are not selling other property there. Actually, it is because of all of you and your support of Companeros that we can afford to back off at this time. It and you have helped us make a very good living there and save for semi-retirement, but now seems like the perfect time to pass on the torch. We are starting to actively search for a buyer.
We will have the site leveled, filled and ready to build on soon after the ground thaws. We are saving part of the old basement for utilities and some dry storage, and could save the two north bathrooms (which would save a lot in rebuilding cost). These features plus two great wells, an up to code septic, the land, the location, and the history of success will be what is being sold. We also have the federally protected Companeros and Dorset House name, recipes, methods, on- line presence, equipment, supplies and most of all, a crew of which most would be willing to help (as we would) new owners if they wanted us. I would sell for a very reasonable price, perhaps on a contract for deed if that was desired by the new owners, but I feel I am at the point where spearheading the construction and being the driving force should be left to the people who will be making a new career out of it. I hope to find someone who loves Dorset and our team, and will rehire team members who want to be in on the rebuilding. I will also be looking for someone who wants to get things up and running as soon as possible. Along those lines, we already have plans for a new building and very reliable builders. They are willing to build at a high quality structure a great price because they want to be part of Dorset. The expertise of our crew is also available to help in design. We have many ideas for a new building, perhaps with one kitchen and some menu changes, all of which will make it much more energy and labor efficient. Of course all or part of this could be used or not used by new owners.
I would like to most sincerely thank all of you for your continued support that allowed me to enjoy a great life of working with and serving the greatest people for the last 30 years. I have to say that I still love it and don’t want it to die. I think that a new Companeros – Dorset House or a totally different restaurant concept has the potential to be a great career for a family (as was our case) or person or persons interested in being in business in a beautiful area with an amazingly wonderful community to work with. It could be you! If you have any thoughts, questions offers or ideas, please write or call.
Thank you, Rick Kempnich"