New owner keeping Wildcat Cafe open
With the last students and staff leaving Elmore Academy last week, at least one positive bit of news came out of the situation.
The Wildcat Cafe, owned by Elmore Academy’s parent company of Youth International Services (YSI) is going to remain open.
Cinda Hagedorn, who has managed the Wildcat Cafe for the past 10 years, is purchasing the restaurant and building from YSI.
The deal becomes final on Feb. 1. But, until that happens, Hagedorn is leasing the Wildcat Cafe from her former employer for the month of January.
“I have had a lot of support from the community of Elmore, wanting me to do this,” Hagedorn says. “Elmore people are very happy; they were worried it would close.”
Hagedorn is going to have to run the cafe with fewer workers than she has had in the past.
For years, students from Elmore Academy have worked at the cafe.
“I would get two or three kids in here everyday,” Hagedorn says. “They were very good workers, fun to be around and I am sure I helped a lot of kids. I?will miss them.”
Hagedorn has nothing but high praise for YSI and Elmore Academy.
“I was very proud to have worked for YSI for 16 years,” she says. “I worked on the floor with the kids until I started managing the cafe 10 years ago.”
She recalls starting Santa Claus Day in Elmore, at the cafe with Elmore Academy students helping out.
“They absolutely loved it, helping the little kids,” she says. “It was fun for them, as much as for the local kids.”
The Elmore Academy students did many good things in the community, Hagedorn points out.
“I have logged as many as 1,500 hours of community service from the students in one month,” she says. “They got a lot of bad press, but they also did a lot of good things.”
Hagedorn says she will run the cafe by herself, now, with a little help from one worker, Clay Hanevik. Eventually, she knows she may have to hire additional workers.
She plans on keeping the name the same and run it similarly to what it has been in the past. However, she has a few new ideas she wants to try out as well.
“I have some ideas up my sleeve,” she says. “I want to remodel a bit inside and maybe put in a mini-convenience store in the front of the building. That is for down the road. I’ve got a plan, we will see if it happens.”
Hagedorn has lived in Elmore for 40 years. She had five children, but one was killed.
“My oldest graduated from Elmore High,” she says. “The rest from Blue Earth.”
She has a son, Darren, and a daughter, Kristin Grant, who live in Blue Earth; a son, Chad in Farmington and another son, David, in Warsau, Wis. Plus, she has 10 grandchildren.
Hagedorn says she enjoys kids, both her own and the ones who have been working with her from Elmore Academy.
“I think the kids learned a lot from working here,” she says. “And I?thoroughly enjoyed working with them.”
Now it is a new stage for her. She says she has to learn a few new skills in running a business as an owner, not just a manager.
And doing it alone. At least for now.