The Burger King management team: John Arai, Pelican Rapids manager; Dani Syverson, operations manager based in Detroit Lakes; and owner Mike Knoop.
The Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids Burger King management team, left foreground, John Arai and Dani Syverson, with Park Region cooperative board chairman Rick Johnson and board member Tom Marty, far right.
The group is pictured Sept. 28, as the grills were fired up for a pre-opening event.
Background, from left, Everett Ballard, board member; Mike Knoop, franchise owner; Greg Larson, co-op manager; board member Chris Westby; and board member John Gorton.
Pelican Rapids and Detroit Lakes Burger King owner Mike Knoop, left, with Rick and Jan Haugrud, at the pre opening test run Sept. 28. Rick Haugrud is a Park Region Cooperative board member
Signage was installed Sept. 24 at the Burger King on Highway 59 in Pelican Rapids.

Opening of Burger King brings new business to Pelican Rapids–and relief to Park Region board as new tenant replaces McD’s
after 6 month vacancy

A new franchise, a new owner, an on-site manager, a new fast food option, and a happy Park Region Cooperative board–the community of Pelican Rapids couldn’t ask for much more.

Burger King has arrived.

Ever since McDonalds declined to renew its lease and closed last spring at the Park Region Cenex convenience store complex, the local co-op board has been collectively “pacing the floor;” nervous about a tenant for the restaurant space.

Enter Mike Knoop, who also owns the Burger King operation in Detroit Lakes.

Park Region and Knoop worked out a contract, launching a summer-long renovation, which includes a more open layout, a brighter interior, and completely renovated rest rooms.

“Our relationship with the Park Region Board has been awesome. They are so easy to work with,” said Knoop, who has been affiliated with Burger
King dating back to 1995. “I can pick up the phone any time of the day and get one of them on the line.”

The Pelican operation is expected to employ about 25, and the hiring process is still continuing, said Knoop.

“This is really a nice community…super welcoming,” said Knoop, at a private pre-opening event Sept. 28, as the grills were fired up and staff served a select group of Park Region board members and staff and guests.

But Knoop is pleased to report that John Arai will be the on-site manager, who has been in the food service business for 15 years. Arai has also moved to Pelican Rapids. “You really want a local manager to be in town and part of the community,” noted Knoop.

Meanwhile, Knoop himself expects to be a familiar face as well.

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.

The lease is long term, up to 40 years, with special provisions based on a percentage of gross sales, said Greg Larson, Park Region manager.

Park Region assumed a share of the interior remodeling costs. These include new flooring and tile; remodeled rest rooms; and a reconfiguration of the wall separating the Park Region convenience store from the restaurant.

“We sharpened our pencils to make this work,” said board chair Rick Johnson.

“This whole process started over a year ago,” noted board member Everett Ballard.

“This will be a great asset to the community, not just Park Region, but the entire community and business community…(Burger King) is in this for the long haul,” said board member John Gorton.

Especially happy is Greg Larson, who is thrilled with the “fancy new restrooms,” he said, adding with a laugh, that the bathrooms are “my legacy.”

In addition to the renovations on the south side of the Park Region complex, the retail store has also undergone internal renovations in layout and display. A new counter and cash register installation is scheduled to be installed at the convenience store this month.

Board members were all smiles Friday night. Not only will there be a new tenant in the Park Region complex; with a local, on-site manager in John Arai, but Burger King will generate traffic for the convenience store–which in turn will benefit all local businesses.

The added traffic of a food service operation is crucial, as fuel sales at the Park Region Cenex gas pumps slipped an average of 800 to 1,000 gallons a month since McDonalds closed in April.

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.

Owner 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. The entire family was on hand for the Sept. 28 pre-opening gathering.

Burger King founding dates to 1953 in Jacksonville, Florida

Every day, more than 11 million are served Burger King restaurants around the world.

Founded in 1953, Burger King is the second largest fast food hamburger chain in the world.

Founded in Jacksonville, Florida, as Insta-Burger King, it was inspired by the McDonald brothers’ original store location in California, the founders and owners, Keith J. Kramer and his wife’s uncle Matthew Burns, began searching for a concept.

The two opened their first stores around a cooking device known as the Insta-Broiler. The Insta-Broiler oven proved so successful at cooking burgers, they required all of their franchises to carry the device.

Its mascot, the Burger King was created in 1955. The character would become a staple of its advertising over the next six decades. The company’s signature sandwich, the Whopper was created in 1957 and originally sold for 37 cents.