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Easton celebrates Club 569, a new version of an old hotspot

Old American Legion building reopens as downtown restaurant

March 12, 2017
Cody Benjamin - Register Staff Writer (cbenjamin@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

At the entrance of a former American Legion building on Main Street in small-town Easton, the glimmer of a contemporary dining scene can be spotted.

The glow of a new wall-mounted jukebox shines from the doorway, as does a flat-screen TV positioned above one side of a bar, ever offering the inevitable sports highlights of the day.

The lights are bright, and the walls, repainted from a darker tint of several years ago, are almost brighter. The kitchen, hidden from view but just as vital a part of the reworked building, awaits orders from an audience hungry for the return of a rural supper spot.

Article Photos

Anne Giese, above, stands in front of Club 569, a newly remodeled rendition of what once was deemed The Club in downtown Easton. The restauraunt, which
originated as an American Legion post in the 1970s, is now open on Main Street with old-fashioned furniture and brand-new ownership.

Welcome to Club 569.

The latest rendition of what began as the headquarters for Minnesota's American Legion Post 569 in the early 1970s, the restaurant officially opened its doors on March 10, with an unofficial opening celebration slated for St. Patrick's Day a week later.

And in more ways than one, it offers Easton a chance not only to rekindle memories of old but embrace a step in a new direction all while enjoying a few drinks and some homestyle cooking.

For starters, Club 569 is owned by Wells' Anne Giese, who is no stranger to the Main Street pub.

"When it used to be the Legion supper club," says Giese, "we'd come here every weekend when I was younger, because my dad was the commander at one time."

After the Legion left the building in the 1980s and the hometown couple of Norm and Sandy Berkland turned the gathering space into a downtown restaurant called The Club, Giese still frequented the venue.

It had her heart so long, in fact, that after The Club's short-lived stint as an upscale Italian eatery decades later from 2014-2015, she made an offer to purchase the restaurant. Since the business was in foreclosure at the time, however, that offer was turned down.

Retired from Kato Insurance Agency with a history of bartending experience, Giese recalls, in December 2016, still talking over plans of a Club takeover with her husband, Paul. By that point, nearly a year had passed since Giese's offer was rejected.

But the push for a Club revival was not over.

"We had to sit on it for a year," she says, "and my husband said, 'Are we going to do this or aren't we?'"

The two opted to try again, and in January 2017, their second offer was accepted. Finally, after a Feb. 10 closing, Giese was given the keys to what she long considered an icon of Easton dining, perhaps in part because The Club had long been the sole icon of Easton dining.

Now, rebranded as Club 569 in honor of both the Berklands' longtime hotspot and the Legion Post that kicked off the building's life years ago, Giese's Main Street space is open for business. And its new name and owner are not the only symbols of a restaurant rebuilt on both old-fashioned and new-school concepts.

Giese's daughter, Mandy, who previously bartended in Minnesota Lake and Mankato, will manage the pub, which seats 186. But not much else needed to be added to the actual building.

"This place came with everything down to the bar glasses," Giese says.

Hence the stark and uniquely attractive, Giese suggests contrast between certain parts of the different rooms in Club 569.

Upon entry, a bar, complete with two-sided seating and accompanying wall TVs, is front and center alongside the new jukebox, a redone bar floor and all-new ceilings. But just around the corner, where the building's signature dining room lies, tables and 1970s-style chairs with a near-mustard-yellow tint surround a gas fireplace. On the other side of that room's wall is mounted a winding, carpeted sofa a relic, Giese says, that has been the site of generations worth of kids' naps and footsteps.

From there, original carpet from the '70s can be seen behind the bar in the adjoining room, as can a casette-tape intercom system attached to the wall, once used over loudspeakers throughout the building.

"We want to keep the old-fashioned look," says Giese. "But we've done a lot of work to fix things up, too."

That explains, she adds, why Club 569 will not fully open its kitchen until mid-April, when upgrades there are expected to be complete. Until then, pizzas will be served and the bar will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays starting at 2 p.m.

But even before an anticipated May grand opening and the return of a full menu, which figures to feature standard burgers and appetizers as well as a weekend arsenal of steaks, pork chops and more, Giese says she and the town are already excited to have the restaurant up and running.

"This little town turns from about 150 people to 300 people on St. Patrick's Day," she says, noting Club 569's holiday plans. "And this is a super community, so we just want to bring that (small-town restaurant) back to them."

There was a time, Giese remembers, when her newly owned building was virtually the talk of the town. When everyone from her own family to the congregation at the nearby Our Lady of Mount Carmel church flooded the tables, justifying the place as, well, a club.

In a way, as it regains its footing in town, it still is.

"Before we opened, there were people stopping at the stop signs longer just to look and see what we were doing," she says. "When we were fixing things up in here, we'd leave the doors unlocked, and people would come in and see what's going on."

Now, they can come in for good.

And if Giese's hopes hold true, they can leave with a little slice of everything.

 
 

 

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