Local cooperative board to lease former McDonald’s space to firm with one of strongest national brand names–with strong local ties to Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids area

Historic image of a menu, with burgers at 19 cents.
Historic image of an early Burger King drive-in restaurant.

The Park Region Cooperative Board is in high spirits–and coop general manager Greg Larson’s hair is turning gray at a slower pace.

There will be a new restaurant in town: Burger King.

The local cooperative has been working for a year to firm up a tenant for the convenience store’s south restaurant wing. McDonalds did not renew its ten year lease, and the doors were closed in April. The vacancy left a void, not only for Park Region, but for the Pelican Rapids community.

Equally thrilled with the lease contract is Mike Knoop, owner of the Burger King in Detroit Lakes, who will be leasing the space and opening by late July or early August. A “hands on” owner operator–and a second generation Burger King owner–it’s not uncommon for Knoop to hop into the kitchen and flip burgers with his team.

“We’ll be focusing on the local community, and become a part of Pelican Rapids,” said Knoop. “We’re going to do the best job we can to make the town proud of us and be a good steward in the town.”

Talks between Knoop and the Park Region board date back nearly a year.

“The board at Park Region has been phenomenal. I think they took some hits with McDonalds leaving,” said Knoop. “But they’ve really gone to bat for Pelican Rapids. I couldn’t have worked with a better group than these guys.”

As many as 30 employees are expected to be on board; and Knoop has already hired a manager.

The new restaurant will miss much of the summer traffic in Pelican Rapids, as it is not likely to be in a position to open until the last week of July, at the earliest, noted Larson.

But Knoop is confident about the future of a Pelican Burger King franchise.

“Our expectations are that it will be a somewhat lower volume Burger King,” said Knoop, but he believes Pelican’s year round traffic is an asset.

“The town itself has a fantastic school, and super, friendly people.”

Not all parameters of the agreement have been made public, but a few of the key notes, according to co-op general manager Greg Larson:

• The lease is long term, with special provisions based on a percentage of gross sales, said Larson, though he declined to offer specific details on the business contract.

• Park Region will be assuming a share of the interior remodeling costs. These include new flooring and tile; remodeled restrooms; and a reconfiguration of the wall separating the Park Region convenience store from the restaurant.

• The cooperative has sufficient reserve funds to cover the renovation costs. However, the board may decide to finance part of the project by loan–in order to preserve some of the liquid cash reserves, said Larson. Financing through the Cenex lending subsidiary, or local banks will be considered, said Larson.

• Hours of operation for the restaurant are expected to be 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m to 10 p.m. Sundays. Schedule may shift with the seasons; and depending on business volume, noted Larson.

Knoop is a Wilmer, Minnesota, native; and a business graduate at Concordia College, Moorhead. He and his wife and two children live in the rural Frazee-Detroit Lakes area.