Their goal is good food, fast; their projected opening date is sometime in October, definitely by Goessel’s annual fall Harvest Festival. Not a day goes by, however, that Rod Boese and Ron Soller are not fielding questions about what is happening at the former beauty shop/café building at 106 N. Cedar in Goessel.
“Everyone wants to know what we are doing and when it’s going to be open,” Soller, a maintenance worker at Goessel’s Bethesda Home said. “Every day someone asks me when it’s going to be open. But there is a lot we have to get done here first.”
The little building just off Goessel’s main street and west of the Bethesda Home complex grounds has been a host to many dreams and aspirations. Goessel City Clerk Anita Goertzen remembered it starting out as an ice cream shop with Stan Schmidt, then Bartel Insurance offices, several cafés called it home including the Sunflower Café and The Cookie Jar. Different owners through the years have also used it as a day-care center, and a hair salon with massage and tanning options.
Boese and Soller, who plan to name it The Branding Iron Café, just want to make it a good little western-themed place to get a hamburger.
“I’ve driven past this building year after year and wished it were open as a restaurant,” Boese, also a Bethesda Home maintenance employee said. “I am about done farming now, so it seemed like a good time to try this.”
The two men, assisted by their wives Sherri Boese and Kyline Soller, they have several structural improvement plans to complete before even thinking about opening the doors to the public.
Doing most of the work themselves, they are currently installing a new roof, gutting and repainting interior walls, and putting together plans for an extended porch roof and patio on the south side of the building.
Kitchen equipment installation is shaping up with a fryer coming in from Phoenix, Ariz., and a hood found locally that was just the right size.
“We are pretty limited on space,” Boese said. “So our equipment has to be specialized to fit. We really need to find a 36-inch oven and griddle, and a dumping station yet.”
Boese and Soller are already experimenting with recipes and food ideas at home in their spare time.
“I’ve been working with a fryer at home and trying different kinds of french fries,” Boese said. “I found the Yukon Gold potatoes. Oh man, they are good and make excellent fries.”
Once the restaurant opens, Boese is planning that Soller will take over as the head cook.
“He has all the experience,” Boese said. “That’s my plan ... that he will teach me.”
Prior to 19 years of employment at Bethesda Home, Soller worked at in the cafeteria at Bethel College in North Newton from 1978 to 1984, ending up as the head cook.
“I’ve wanted to get back to that for some time,” Soller said. “Then all of the sudden there was Rod, asking me if I wanted to join him in this venture. Of course I said yes.”
Boese said he hoped to have Soller cooking pure beef hamburgers using meat from his own cattle herd north of town.
“I raise mostly black Angus cattle,” he said. “And they are all grass fed, no grain, just silage and hay in the winter and grass all summer. This should be good quality beef.”
Boese said he was also looking into the possibility of serving buffalo burgers using Goessel’s own local Coon Creek Buffalo herd as a supplier.
“We’ve got a lot of ideas going around,” he said. “But our main goal is to serve good food, and fast.”
Boese, a bus driver for the Goessel school district for 17 years, said he hoped connections made through the years would bring people to the café door. Soller, from Newton, also counts on Bethesda friends and contacts to support the café venture.
“We’re doing this for the community,” he said. “People I’ve talked to think it’s great we are going to do this.”