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Rack's Bar and Grill in Spring Valley contributes to local economy

Fri, Jan 24th, 2014
Posted in Spring Valley Progress Edition

Steve and Karla Tart are the owners of Rack’s Bar and Grill in Spring Valley. Photo by Jackie Horsman

Steve and Karla Tart purchased their business in April 2013, but their vision had started way before that. For years the Tart family had been customers at Tootie’s, a bar and grill, in Spring Valley. Three of four years prior to buying the business from Tootie Foster, Steve and Karla had seriously considered the decision they ultimately made. Karla explained, “We went to Tootie’s after the kids’ games at Kingsland and we wanted to see it continue to be a place where you could bring your family.” The Tarts have done just that with a separate dining room area that closes at 9 p.m. with the understanding that children do not belong in a bar setting in the evening.

Their vision was so strong the Tarts opened Rack’s for business on June 5, 2013, just a few short months after purchasing the building. “All the contractors kept telling us there is no way we could be ready to open by then, but we kept saying yes we will and yes we can,” Steve chuckled as he reminisced. And they did. They opened with a completely remodeled bar and dining room. The feel of the restaurant is cozy and warm, very picturesque like a true Minnesota lodge.

With all the work that went into the finished product, the Tarts are quick to give credit to their family and friends who helped with demolition and stood by them through reconstruction. Steve and Karla take pride in knowing they hired local building contractors and purchased building supplies locally as well. “I believe all of our contractors were from right here in Spring Valley with the exception of the plumber who is from Grand Meadow, but he’s family,” said Steve. Even now, they hire locally for things like snow removal in the parking lot.

Rack’s employs 22 workers, all of which live locally. “Most are from Spring Valley and a few from LeRoy,” according to Karla, “And of course many are family. Our children all work here, Steve’s mom is our accountant and Steve’s sister works for us too.” In fact, Steve explained further, “My sister Judy is a cook at Kingsland and she helped us out so much when we first opened. Karla’s brother-in-law, Arland, is a chef in the family and he gave us a hand too.”

The Tarts have become an integral part of the Spring Valley economy by hiring local residents and utilizing many of the local businesses in town. Helping your neighbor succeed and your neighbor helping you in return is something that comes naturally to the Tart family; they never even considered looking outside of their own community to help complete their dream because they had everything they needed right in their own backyard.

The Tarts’ business is quickly becoming an important asset to the Spring Valley community and the Kingsland district. They host Bingo for the Kingsland Athletic Booster Club on Sunday nights, with all proceeds from Bingo benefiting sports programs. Rack’s also contributes to local fundraisers and causes through donations and were a drop off spot for Toys for Tots in Fillmore County this past Christmas. Giving to the community is important to Steve and Karla. “If you don’t have support from the community, you can’t stay open,” Steve explained, “And the community has been good to us, they have supported us and we have a great loyal customer base so we want to take care of them too.”

Along with offering a full dining menu, Rack’s also offers things for community members to do. In the summer, the bar and grill has bean bag tournaments and in the winter sponsors three D&R pool teams. The Tarts hope to offer more entertainment options for the area by bringing in more music and live bands. “We would love to have a parking lot party with a live band,” Steve chimed excitedly. Along with these offerings, Steve and Karla both expressed the importance of making sure people get home safely. “I’ve driven people home if needed and I’m glad to do it,” Karla said, “Sometimes Steve has followed me in their car or truck too.”

The Tart family reminds us all how privileged we are to live in a small Minnesota town. Helping one another and always contributing to the greater good can help you achieve your dream. While both Steve and Karla work outside of Rack’s; Karla at Mayo Clinic, Steve hauling pigs and together still farming; their vision is to retire with Rack’s and then pass it onto their family for generations to come. Many years from now, it is important to Steve and Karla that the legacy of ‘community’ continues. They hope to see Rack’s continue to contribute the local economy and offer a place for people in the area to meet, have a bite to eat and relax.

Rack’s opens Monday-Saturday at 11 a.m. and serves both lunch and dinner. Breakfast is served on Sundays only, starting at 8 a.m. While family members are ever present, the best time to catch Steve and Karla are Friday and Saturday nights. They invite you to stop in and say hello, check the place out and let them know what you think.

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