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A New Year

Good morning, New Year.

It’s been a while since I’ve written a new post for the website. This seemed as good a time as any.
I’ve been keeping myself pretty darn busy over the past few months.

Here’s a little taste of what’s going on…

About a month ago, I decided to move forward on an expansion project. We will be adding roughly 650 square feet to the pub by expanding into the mystery room that lays behind the big white wall in the lounge. We’ll also be putting in a 10 ft doorway between our main room and the new room, making it easier for folks to enjoy the entertainment from the sidelines and to release some people pressure from the bar.
It’s an exciting time, filled with many roadblocks, unexpected expenses, and of course, lots of work, but I am confident that it will add a lot to the joint and that folks will appreciate a little more room on the busy nights. I certainly appreciate all those who have offered their help. When we get to a point where we may need it, I’ll be posting requests for volunteers on our Facebook page, so stay tuned in there.
From this project, my new partners and I will be diving into the new restaurant project at the levee cafe spot. This is another very exciting project, and I’m embarking on the journey with Tom Fassbender (Red Tail, Boats and Blue Grass) and Lyon Smith (Smith Studios). We are expecting to be open by mid-April. Our menu, at this point, will be decided upon based on our kitchen remodel and what equipment we put in. Again, a lot of folks have offered to help. We totally appreciate it, and will let you know when we need volunteers. We’re planning a Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds to make the spot the best it can be, so stay tuned for that as well. Hopefully we can add some excitement to Winona’s riverfront with this venture.

Now, none of this is possible without the support of our patrons and customers. It is so exciting to see so many new businesses opening in downtown Winona. It seems to me, that the years and years of hard work by so many folks and organizations in the community are paying off. We, perhaps for the first time in my time here, are seeing an array of great local businesses offering different goods and services. People are noticing Winona from all around the region and the State. Dibs, Manitou Martial Arts Center, Mr. Groovy’s, Some Sum Studios, The Computer Dock, Nostaljia, Chapter 2, Broken World Records, Third Eye Tattoo, Cha Chis, Sole Sport are all great additions to the places we’ve grown to know and love, like The Blue Heron, Bub’s, The Bookshelf, The Acoustic Cafe, Blooming Grounds, etc. I know that what I say next may sound cliche, but these places exist because people choose to spend a little of their dough there. I hope that ‘to spend money locally’ is included in all of our lists of new year resolutions. All of these businesses choose to be downtown, we are all committed to improving the geographic core of our community, and with support, we will continue to grow and prosper, more places will open, more folks will come, more events will occur, and eventually downtown Winona will become the place that we all have been wishing for, working for and visualizing for many, many years. It is possible, but it all begins with financial support from our community.

And for that support, I want to thank all of you who stopped by Ed’s in the past year. I feel so fortunate that we are entering our sixth year of business. It’s truly amazing to me. When I first opened, I was so consumed by the thoughts and tasks of how a business runs, that I never had time to think of failure or success (or even a name!). When things settled down a bit, realities set in. I spent a year without a home, sleeping in the storeroom of the bar in the winter and a houseboat in the summer so that I could save the money needed to keep the business open. For most of the first year, I worked 7 days a week, 10-15 hours a day, but slowly we were able to add new bartenders. First Aliza, then Ava, then Justin, then Andrew, then Becca, then Dustin, then Paul, then Jenna, then Brandon, then Maggie, then Sarah. All have brought different strengths to the place and all have helped me keep my head on straight when I felt overwhelmed and under-rested. Thank your bartender the next time you stop in. I couldn’t have done it without them.

Lastly, I want to say a few words about our New Years Eve party itself. To me the day was a perfect example of how great the community is that surrounds Ed’s. I was beat down and broken by the time I started cleaning up to open for the day. I spent the morning dealing with roadblocks to the remodeling project, the afternoon in front of a computer to get some end of year bookwork done, recognizing that I may be in over my head.
I had no idea how I was going to get the place ready for one of the biggest parties of the year. However, within minutes of arriving, our ‘community’ started showing up. First Dawn, to let me know that things were going to be ok. She watched the bar while I ran some errands I had forgotten about. Mike and Jason then came by to join Dawn in the decorating and cleaning of the place. Rick and Jack (two folks I would consider invaluable mentors and friends) then wandered in to look at my project, offer suggestions, and remind me that its all worth it. The bands came in to set up, and Jim, acting on a suggestion I had made the night before had Jamie bring in some colored lights to turn what was an ugly wall covered in plastic to block the view of the work zone into an awesome light installation that was one of the most talked about things of the night. The folks in the bands, and the sound guy, Rob, were all total professionals, taking care of the entertainment aspect of the evening so I didn’t even have to think about it. And then my employees, Sarah and Brandon, came in to handle the bartending so I could watch the door. What most folks might not know about this, is that I, forgetting that NYE was on a Monday, forgot to schedule anyone to work! Sarah and Brandon recognized this and made a schedule for themselves without any goading from me. Becca, as always, was a huge help, dealing with more decorations, making me lists of things that needed to be done and picked up, and helping out as needed when the party finally started. Finally, as I calmed down and settled into the celebration, I was able to look around, see so many smiling faces, see my old friends rockin out on stage at the height of their musical prowess for 100 dancing and cheering revelers, see our bartenders hustling on a holiday night that they weren’t even scheduled to work on, see customers helping out by buying drinks and busing dishes, and I realized that this little bar is a truly special place. I have so many folks that believe in what we do here and they have my back and save my ass time and time again. It’s amazing. I am thankful, I am humbled, I am at your service.

Happy New Year.

  • Swan

    Ed, I thank you more than you will ever know for the entertainment, beer selection, friendship and community your place offers. I simply could not have lived here 7 years without what I consider Winona’s living room. Looking forward to your cafe and beyond!

  • Marily451

    Truly I just about starting shedding some tears reading this soulful description of business.  I love Ed’s and everyone you mentioned that I’ve been fortunate enough to know.   My daughter recently came down from minneapolis to meet some old friends at the Bar and she loved it too.  It truly is the livingroom of Winona.   So exciting to see the new expansion.   I wish you and others in these ventures much success measured in prosperity of course, and also measured in the love and care moving back and forth in the world that is so evident in this website writing, Ed.   Thank you for sharing.     Marilyn K

  • Peter

    I’m very excited that Rogue Valley will be playing there on March 8th. Is there an admission charge? My wife are originally from Winona and are thinking about down for the concert from Morris.

    • Edward

      Hey there! I’m sorry but I just checked this account now. I hope you were able to make it.

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