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O'Neil's in Spicer, Minn., undergoes major renovation

Crews with Vreeman Construction of Willmar work Thursday on the foundation of the new addition to O’Neils Food and Spirits in Spicer. Ownership is conducting a major renovation at the popular bar and eatery. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

SPICER — O’Neil’s Food and Spirits has been a destination near Green Lake in Spicer since shortly after the first transistor radios were being carried to nearby Saulsbury Beach.

So hang in there. Its doors will reopen with plenty of time to enjoy the beach this summer.

Co-owner Jon Olson said early August is the target date for reopening the popular restaurant and bar in downtown Spicer.  

Its doors have been closed for about a month. One of the original buildings has been razed. The interior of the building on the corner of Lake Avenue North and Manitoba Street has essentially been gutted.

Construction is now under way on the new O’Neil’s that will emerge. It will be larger, with a capacity to hold around 150 patrons at the height of the summer season, or double the present capacity.

It will feature a permanent patio area and Spicer’s answer to the retractable roof the Vikings probably won’t have.

An area to the left of what will be the main entrance on Lake Avenue will include two large, overhead doors. They can be raised in the summer for open air events, such as weddings or performances by bands, said Olson.

Patrons entering on Lake Avenue will also have the option of stepping into a new, and larger, dining area with a 13-foot tall ceiling.

Overall, the emphasis will be on preserving the original character that has made it so popular a destination. Patrons will continue to enjoy a great view of Green Lake, and Olson said O’Neil’s will continue to provide a casual setting to enjoy good food and service.

Olson purchased the business with a partner in 2000, and today co-owns and operates it in partnership with his spouse, Michelle. They have been looking at whether to renovate or rebuild for a number of years.

The original building dates to the turn of the century, and had been added on to at least two different times. It was just getting too difficult to add new “band aids” to make it work for today’s needs, according to Olson.

Building new means it will be possible to install a complete and modern kitchen, along with walk-in coolers and other infrastructure to make life easier for everyone, he said.

The project means that Spicer will be without one of its best-known venues during the community’s famous 4th of July celebration, but Olson promises the wait will be worth it.

Dan Burdett

Dan Burdett is the community content coordinator at the West Central Tribune. He has 13 years experience in print media, to include four years enlisted service in the United States Air Force. He has been an employee of Forum Communications since 2005, joining the company after spending two years as the managing editor of the Redwood Gazette and Livewire in Redwood Falls. Prior to his current position, Dan was the presentation editor at the Tribune.

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