A hometown fellow with a knack for brewing beer is back in town–perfecting a new skill: Making pizzas.
Pelican area native Tony Huseby is now commanding the ovens at Pelican Pizza, assuming ownership from Pat and Sara Furey.
Papers were signed in early October, and Huseby is in business. The pizzeria is a slight change in plans for Huseby–who has been researching the idea of a local beer brewery for several years. But, the downtown Pelican restaurant is likely a stepping stone toward his brewmaster dream.
“I’ve been brewing beer at home for about 16 years, and have been talking about starting a small brewery in Pelican,” said Huseby.
One of his contacts were the Fureys, where they had discussed the possibility of being their brewer if they were interested in adding a brew pub to their pizza shop.
“Then out of the blue, Pat asked if I would be interested in buying the place,” said Huseby. “It made sense…Now, we’re looking at a restaurant, adding some good craft beer. And eventually, adding brewing.”
There was a “comfort level” in buying a business that was already a growing concern, said Huseby. The city of Pelican has a wine and beer license available, so Huseby hopes to expand on the pizza shop to add a small bar area, and with some specialty beer taps.
“Longer range, we would apply for a brew pub license and eventually do some of our own brewing,” said Huseby, noting that the open lot to the south of the pizza shop is also part of the purchase, and would allow space for expansion.
The Furey’s pizza and chicken will continue largely as is, because there is a strong local market. But Huseby said he may do a little tweaking of the menu.
For Huseby, his love for the community of Pelican Rapids is part of the draw back to town. “My heart has always been in Pelican Rapids,” said the 1984 Pelican high graduate. Pelican has always been a part of who I am…and I have a love for the lakes area.”
Huseby was part of the Viking basketball tournament that went all the way–winning the state basketball tournament.
“I wouldn’t say I was a key component of the team,” laughed Huseby, “but I was definitely part of the experience. There’s something about a state tourney that adds a bit of extra glue to the classmates,” he added, noting that the classmates still keep in touch.
Huseby was also active in track and football, as well as choir and band. He continued with music, playing drum for a couple bands while in college and playing mostly Fargo-Moorhead area clubs and venues. He still plays on occasion with a loose coalition of musicians, including appearances for area benefit events.
Huseby has spent most of his adult career in education, after graduating from Moorhead State. He and his wife Michelle lived in Brooklyn Center from about 1994 to 2000, where Tony earned a Masters Degree at the University of Minnesota. From 2000 until October, he was with the Moorhead public school system in the instructional technology department, as well as other assignments. Michelle has been with Cisco Foods, a distributor that services restaurants and other clients. She brings expertise to the restaurant, though will be largely behind the scenes, bookkeeping, and not generally on site.
They have a daughter who is a senior in the Moorhead school system; and an adult son who lives and works in the Fargo-Moorhead area, so he plans to commute initially but “probably within two years moving in this direction.”
Huseby has been getting great feedback from the community. Fortunately, he has been ushered into the business with a lot of help from the Fureys and existing staff–for which he said he is very grateful.
“The fact that we will have craft beer here…and a possible brew pub in the future, has created a lot of buzz,” said Huseby.
He doesn’t anticipate being a restaurant bar operating until 1 in the morning, but said hours would likely be extended when Pelican Pizza begins serving craft beers.
He’s excited about serving both the lakes area visitors-and the locals. Local business and loyalty is very important year-round, said Huseby.
“I’ve worked in food service in the past and I’ve always liked the idea of being a restaurant-bar owner, but never really pulled the trigger,” he said.