Back in 2020, two Blue Earth Area alumni were sitting in the office of Neilson Blacktopping in Casota and started talking about ideas.
Two BEA alumni were Jonah Pirsig and Joe Franta. Their idea was to purchase the Double Play Bar and Grill in downtown Blue Earth, which had been on the market for a long time.
The purchase was made and the duo will open Average Jo’s Sports Bar and Grill in April 2021.
Now, Average Jo’s (as it’s commonly called) has won the 2022 Blue Earth Chamber of Commerce Rising Star Award.
This award is given each year to a Blue Earth business that is less than two years old and has demonstrated a strong commitment to community advancement and demonstrates stability and forward-looking attitude.
“We (Joe and I) thought Blue Earth needed a sports bar and that it could be a success.” Pirsig, who will become sole owner of Average Jo’s in July 2022, said:
Pirsig says his love of cooking was a big factor in his desire to buy the restaurant.
“I have loved cooking since high school.” he explains. “I loved cooking for my family and friends, but I had never been a restaurant cook before.”
Pirsig graduated from BEA in 2012. He was recruited to play football at the University of Minnesota and eventually became a starter for the Gophers’ offensive line for three years. He graduated from U in 2016.
“I majored in primary education, but I never taught students.” he points out. “I decided to go in another direction.”
Pirsig said he and Franta are considering Double Play in April 2020, working with Kara Drake of O/NE Realty, Blue Earth, Mary Kennedy and Amy Schaefer of Blue Earth Economic Development Authority, and Cory Milbrandt of First Bank Blue Earth. and completed. transaction.
“Closed in February 2021” Pilsig’s comments.
Then the work started.
“We wanted to give the place its own touch, so it didn’t look like a double play.” Pilsig mentions. “But having in mind the fact that the double play was successful, I didn’t want to redo the whole thing.”
What Pirsig and Franta did was add a private room, remodel the bar, and paint a lot.
“We also decided to open up more of the outdoor section so people don’t feel too isolated.” says Pilsig. In addition, we have changed our business days to open on Sundays and closed on Mondays. Provide a place for people to come and watch the bikes. ”
Pirsig recalls the first two months of running his new business, saying it was one of the most difficult months he has ever experienced.
“Thank you to those who started with us.” he comments “I’m talking about both employees and customers.”
Pirsig adds that he also appreciates Joe’s boss at Nielson.
“He is co-owner of several restaurants in the Mankato area.” says Pilsig. “He put us in touch with vendors and told us what we had to do.”
He also enlisted the help of people who worked at Double Play.
“Learning how to run a restaurant was a challenge” Pilsig said. “We turned to Amy Bussinger, Janet Maloney, Travis (Doc) Armstrong, Daniel Peterson, Terib Taube and Christina Myers who worked at Doubleplay. Another key figure is Autumn Marlatt.”
Bussinger became Average Jo’s full-time manager last August, and Pirsig immediately left for a week’s vacation.
“I was ready for a break” he says.
Pirsig explains that special events held in the city, such as Giant Days, Holiday Sampler, sports tournaments and garage sales, can lead to increased restaurant sales.
“We open at 11am every day.” he explains. “We are open until 11:00 pm Tuesday through Thursday and close at 1:00 am on Fridays and Saturdays. We are open until 4:00 pm on Sundays.”
He says that the summer months are generally slow for business because people want to be outside and Blue Earth doesn’t have a lake to bring people into town.
“We are considering playing more bands in the spring and summer.” Pilsig’s comments.
But he says there’s one constant that makes owning an Average Jo special for him, no matter what time of the year.
“It’s the people. It’s interesting to hear from our customers, but the people who work here are really special.” says Pilsig. “I’m very fortunate to have so many high school students who want to work. People come to the restaurant and see young people at work and enjoy the opportunity to connect with them. It’s really fun.” ”