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Burdey’s Cafe opens in Peterson

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Mar 1st, 2013
Posted in Peterson Features

New owners of Peterson cafe, the Burdey family. (L-R) Gabe, Isaac, Kristin, Annika, Steven, and Isaiah. Photo Kirsten Zoellner

Change can be hard. Just ask the locals of the Peterson area who have spent the last 14 years appreciating the down-home food and atmosphere of Judy’s Country Kitchen, the town’s busiest eatery. The restaurant has a loyal clientele and is popular among the seasonal tourist crowds. When word of it being sold in the spring of 2013 hit the area, the rumor mill in the area swirled over just who was taking over. Thankfully, people can rest assured; the restaurant is passing into the capable hands of local couple Steven and Kristin Burdey.

Choosing the right successors meant a lot to previous owners Jim and Judy Severtson. “It was important to them that local people take over the restaurant,” notes Kristin. “We didn’t enter into it lightly.” Initially, the couple felt they needed to think about the possibility. Soon it was clear that this was exactly what they were meant to do. “We talked about owning a restaurant when we first met,” says Kristin. “The opportunity just presented itself.”

Neither Steven nor Kristin are strangers to the restaurant business. Steven’s background includes more than 20 years in the retail/restaurant management industry, including as a chef, kitchen manager, and corporate trainer for Perkins. He has also offered his talents as a chef and consultant at Awakenings in Winona and in corporate management for Kwik Trip. Largely self-taught, Steven did apprentice under chef Kevin Cassidy, of Currents Restaurant, and Laurie Farley of Kate & Gracie’s Restaurant, both in Alma, Wisconsin. He was also chosen to compete in Rushford’s 2012 Expoculinaria professional chef challenge, “Bring It To the Table.”

Kristin, likewise, has over 12 years in the restaurant industry, working as a waitress at both Judy’s and at Perkins in Winona, where she first met her husband. A native to Rushford, Kristin has long been a buoyant personality in the community.

“It’s just amazing how the Lord planned all this out,” notes Steven, thinking back to how he met his wife. “I was working for Kate & Gracie’s, but it was getting towards winter, slowing down. I thought about getting a part-time job. I wasn’t ever going to work for Perkins again. I tried to talk myself out of it and went back and forth, but there was someone I was going to meet,” he adds, smiling at his wife.

Married November 11, 2011, Kristin echoes her husband’s words. “We’re ridiculously perfect for each other. We’ve trusted God in every step. In fact, when we first talked about owning a restaurant, we said it had to be closed at night and on Sundays and this is,” she enthuses.

“God gives gifts and being able to utilize those gifts is important,” continues Steven. “We have anxiety about a lot of things, but we have confidence that we will succeed.”

The transition has been relatively smooth for both couples, as they go through the necessary financial aspects and preparations. The biggest challenge has been implementing gradual changes for the café. “We needed to strike a balance between what they’re used to and what we can offer,” she adds. “We want to steward the atmosphere they’ve created here. There were a lot of concerns over if the menu would change. Some will, but it’ll be about 50/50, old and new. We’re walking into an established building and clientele.”

There are many creative, mouthwatering menu items; including something intriguing dubbed, “The Sweaty Gypsy,” but the fare will largely still be American-style, including the famous coffee, homemade pies and Steven’s celebrated cheesecakes. “We’d like to add more and more local foods as time goes on,” says Steven. “Perhaps offer a homemade line of dressings and some sauces. We are also purchasing the building next door and we’d like to maybe offer homemade crafts and products. Who knows?”

“The best part is that we’re entering into this together and with God. Family is the most important,” notes Kristin, who along with Steve have a full family in children Isaiah (15), Isaac (14), Gabe (14), and Annika (7). “This is going to be a family business,” she smiles.

“There’s a world of possibilities,” adds Steven. “We can dream.”

Burdey’s Café is located at 417 Mill Street in Peterson. Hours are Monday through Thursday 6am-4pm, Friday 6am-9pm, and Saturday 7am-4pm.

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