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Steve Cahalan: Crumbl Cookies, Wild Birds and Bjorn Naturals … – La Crosse Tribune

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Owner Tara Jergenson opened Bjorn Naturals in August at 16935 N. Main St. in downtown Galesville. It sells lots of products made with natural ingredients.
Bjorn Naturals opened in August at 16935 N. Main St. in downtown Galesville. It’s in part of a building that also houses a State Farm Insurance agency’s office, and is across the street from an Express Mart convenience store/gas station.
Lenny Matiak, above, said this Friday will be the final day for Lenny’s Shoe Repair Shop at 721 Clinton St. because he is retiring after 64 years of working with shoes.
Lenny Matiak, who said Friday will be the last day for his Lenny’s Shoe Repair at 721 Clinton St. because he is retiring, has not decided whether to try to rent or sell the building, which he and his wife own.
Plans for a Crumbl Cookies store in Onalaska, the upcoming closing of Wild Birds Unlimited in Onalaska and the recent opening of Bjorn Naturals in Galesville top this week’s local business news. I’ve also got news about a timetable for redeveloping the former Shopko store in Onalaska, the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in Onalaska, and this week’s closing of Lenny’s Shoe Repair in La Crosse.
This is the first Christmas season for Tara Jergenson’s Bjorn Naturals LLC store at 16935 N. Main St. in downtown Galesville.
Jergenson opened her store in August in part of a building that houses a State Farm Insurance agency. It’s across the street from the Express Mart convenience store/gas station.
“It’s been great,” Jergenson said, when I asked how business has been since the store opened. “The people I have met and made relationships with have been just amazing. They’ve been so kind and welcoming.”
Jergenson’s store sells a variety of all-natural, eco-friendly products, ranging from elderberry syrup to sea moss gel, tinctures, CBD products, salves, other bath and body products, cleaning products, pillow cases, floor mats, socks, knee bands, arm bands, jewelry and home decor. Many of the products are made by area people, including Jergenson.
“I believe in helping people get back to the natural ways of staying healthy,” she said. “I try to stay very organic with all-natural products, with no chemicals, no preservatives.”
Jergenson sold some of her products online for about two years before opening her store.
She said she may hold a grand opening celebration this spring. For hours and more information about the business, call 608-317-3292 or visit http://bjornnaturals.com or the store’s Facebook page.
Franchisees Rory and Connie Young and Karen French plan to open a Crumbl Cookies gourmet cookie store next year between Shopko Optical and Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurant in Onalaska.
Connie told me they signed a lease last week for the last remaining space in the four-unit building at 9417 Hwy. 16. The cookie store will be on the building’s south end. A Noodles & Co. restaurant is on the north end.
It will be the third Crumbl Cookies store for the Youngs, who live in Menomonie, Wis., and French, who lives in both Florida and Alaska. They expect to open their first store, in Hudson, Wis., in early March, and to open their Eau Claire, Wis., store in April. The Onalaska store will be the third to open, sometime in 2023, Connie said.
“We love the town,” Connie said of the greater La Crosse area. “The people there are amazing and we have friends and family there.”
Crumbl Cookies was established in Logan, Utah, in 2017 and today is headquartered in Lindon, Utah. The fast-growing chain has more than 600 stores around the nation and says it is known for its weekly rotating menu, pink boxes for its cookies and passionate social media following. For more information, visit https://crumblcookies.com.
Dec. 30 is expected to be the last day for the Wild Birds Unlimited store in the Crosseroads Center shopping center at 9348 State Hwy. 16 in Onalaska, although it could close before that, depending on how quickly its inventory sells.
Gaylord Perry and his wife, Karen, bought the local Wild Birds Unlimited store in 2001 and moved it in 2009 from the Crossing Meadows shopping center in Onalaska to Shelby Mall on the South Side of La Crosse.
They moved their franchised store to its current location in 2016.
Gaylord retired from the business several years ago, Karen told me last week. “It’s time now for me to retire,” she said. Karen said she has tried to sell the business for a number of years.
The store sells backyard bird feeding and nature products.
For more information, call the store at 608-781-5088 or visit https://onalaska.wbu.com.
The new Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant at 3025 S. Kinney Coulee Road in Onalaska is expected to open in February, according to an online posting seeking applications for its general manager position. The posting was made 24 days ago.

Some newer online postings for other jobs at the Onalaska restaurant, which went online last week, invite applicants to “join us at Credo, LLC” but did not say when the eatery will open.
A little online research show that Credo is a Five Guys franchisee operated by Kris Humphries, a former NBA and University of Minnesota basketball star; and by his father, William Humphries. It owns a number of Five Guys restaurants in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Strack Construction Co. Inc. of St. Joseph, Minn., is building out the restaurant’s interior. A city building permit for that work was issued a few weeks ago.
Five Guys will be the last tenant to open in the new three-unit building, which is just north of the new Chick-fil-A restaurant. A Mattress Firm store opened in the middle space in October and Caribou Coffee opened a Caribou Cabin drive-thru and walk-up location in the southernmost space in November.
My inquiries to officials at Five Guys headquarters, including one I made last week, have gone unanswered. Based in Lorton, Va., the chain has more than 1,700 locations across North America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
A Florida developer whose company is buying the former Shopko department store at 9366 State Road 16 in Onalaska told me last week that he hopes to start demolition and construction work next month.
Cory Presnick, a principal with Miami-based CORTA Development, also said all five retailers that will fill the expanded building should be open next fall.
I briefly toured the former Shopko store when it was open for three hours Monday for public viewing of lots of shelving, fixtures, displays and other contents that were being auctioned online Tuesday.
I wrote in August about CORTA Development’s plans to acquire, remodel and add on to the former Shopko, creating spaces for five retail stores, including three in the existing building. The store closed in 2019 when the Shopko chain filed for bankruptcy and closed all of its remaining locations.
“We are currently finalizing closing on the property to purchase from Paradise Wisconsin Properties, LLC, and hope to begin initial demo and construction in January,” Presnick said last week.
“All five retailers should be open in fall 2023,” he said. “I cannot announce retailers until we close the transaction.”
After 64 years of working with shoes, Lenny Matiak says Friday, Dec. 30, will be the last day for his Lenny’s Shoe Repair shop at 721 Clinton St. in La Crosse.
“It’s time to retire,” said Matiak, who will be 80 years old in February and owns the business with his wife, Rosemary.
“I’ll miss the customers,” Matiak told me. “Just like they’ll miss me.” Once he closes his business, Dan’s Shoe Repair at 112 Fifth Ave. N. in downtown La Crosse will be the city’s only shoe repair shop.
“I don’t know,” Matiak said, when asked what he and his wife will do with the building. “I’m just going to let it sit idle for a little bit, and figure out whether I want to sell it or rent it, or whatever.”
The shoe repair shop on the city’s North Side also has sold shoes, boots and footwear accessories, and has repaired other items such as coats and purses.
Lenny began his career at age 15 by shining and repairing shoes at George’s Shoe Shine in downtown La Crosse. He later went to work at Ferris Shoe Repair.
Roger Ferris decided to open a second shoe repair shop at 1232 Caledonia St., which Matiak managed for 10 years. Then Matiak bought the shop. He kept it at the Caledonia Street location for nine years, before constructing his current building at 721 Clinton St., still in the Old Towne North area.
According to an October 1986 La Crosse Tribune story, Matiak – then 43 years old – had recently moved the business into the Clinton Street building.

Edwardo’s Ristorante di Pizza at 1930 Rose St. closed in 2015 after 55 years of business. The building was torn down and Good Steward Resale Store opened there in 2016.
Embers Restaurant, a Minnesota-based chain, opened at 2620 Rose St. in December, 1973. The eatery closed in April 2004 to make room for a Walgreens, which opened at the site in November 2004.
T. Daniel Solie, owner of the Cheddar ‘n Ale, samples some of his new restaurant’s fare with store manager Joan Jahimiak and co-owner Beverlee Solie. The eatery was located in the same building as the Solies’ other business, the Swiss Chateau, at 728 S. Third St. Today, that site is a sales lot for Toyota of La Crosse.
The Mai-Tai Supper Club is shown here in 1978, the same year the restaurant at 1539 Rose St. was sold by Rachel Skoug to Glenn Addis. In January 1983, Addis sold the property to Arthur Lucas, who renamed the restaurant Arthur’s Restaurant; the restaurant closed five months later. Later that year, Lucas was convicted of first degree-murder. According to news reports, Lucas shot Theodore and Carlene Ann Buschkopf in a Winona, Minn., hotel room; Theodore Buschkopf died from his injuries. Investigators later discovered that Arthur Lucas and Carlene Ann Buschkopf had planned the hit in order to collect life insurance money to fund the restaurant’s reopening. The building was razed, and today the land is a parking just south of the Subway restaurant on the city’s North Side. Carrie died in custody in 2010. Arthur was released in 2013 after serving nearly 30 years in prison.
Eugene McLellan was the manager of Winchell’s Donut House, which opened in 1978 at the corner of West Avenue and Jackson Street.
Masons work on the exterior of a Taco Bell restaurant under construction in 1977 at 1200 La Crosse St. In 1998, Taco Bell moved to 315 West Ave. N., and Pappa John’s pizzeria moved into the building at the corner of La Crosse Street and West Avenue. It closed in 2008, and today a Subway restaurant occupies the corner lot.
Betty Volkman, a server at the New Villa, looks over a replica of the U.S. flag in this 1976 photo. The restaurant closed in May 1999, and the building was razed in 2003 to provide parking for the nearby Marcus Cinema Theater. According to the La Crosse Public Library Archives, the restaurant dated to 1937 when George Dialler purchased Rich Newburgs Nite Club and renamed it the New Villa. Dialler selected a rooster as the restaurants logo to pay tribute to the location once having been a poultry farm. In conjunction with the rooster, the New Villa’s slogan was “food and cocktails to crow about.” It was widely known for its chicken dumpling soup, Hershey almond pie and Friday fish fry dinners.
Darrell and Rosie Kluever, owners of Mr. D’s Donuts, show off their new location shortly after the restaurant moved to 1146 State St. in 1976. The Kluevers’ first Mr. D’s restaurant, opened in 1969, was located next door. Art Lotz took over as owner in 1979, and the restaurant closed in 2006 to make room for a widening of West Avenue.
The Bodega Lunch Club, pictured in 1975, was a downtown La Crosse landmark for generations. The restaurant opened in 1897 at 122 S. Fourth St. and closed for good in 1989 after a brief closure in 1984. Jeff Hotson and Michael Breckel purchased the building in 1994 and created the Bodega Brew Pub, which still anchors the corner of Fourth and Pearl streets.
When the Linker Building was razed in 1962 as a result of a fire, a large hole remained on the site at the southwest corner of Fourth and Main streets. It was an eyesore, and began to be referred to by residents as the hole, according to research by the archives department of the La Crosse Public Library. The land stood vacant until 1966, when efforts by local businesses, organizations and individuals built a sunken garden. An agreement was made with Ben Marcus, the landowner, whereby the chamber would coordinate development of the park, but Marcus would retain full rights and if he decided to build or sell the property, the city would remove the park. Part of the agreement was that filling the hole was not permitted, so the sunken garden was planned. Debris was cleared by Boy Scouts and other volunteers, and a fountain was installed. A name-the-hole contest was held, and the winner was Phil Dyer with his entry Man-Lay Garden. The name was symbolic of the cooperation of management and labor in this project. A commemorative plaque, which included before and after pictures of the site, was placed in the garden in July 1967 in honor of the firms and individuals that donated materials and labor. In 1974, Marcus sold the land for $75,000, and one year later it was announced that a McDonalds restaurant would be built. It was built so the garden could be partially retained. A 32-foot bridge was built from the sidewalk on Fourth Street over the garden to the walkway. The fast-food restaurant closed its location in 1995. In 1998, the property was remodeled for a Brueggers Bagels, and the Man-Lay garden east of the building was filled in to create six parking spaces by fall 1999. The bagel shop closed in 2004. Today the site is home to Howe’s Jewelers.
This Taco John’s restaurant opened in 1975 at 229 Rose St. In 1998, the restaurant moved to a larger location at 602 Monitor St., which was previously home to Taco Time. The location at 229 Rose St. is home today to a used car lot.
Taco Village server Carol Gilmore takes orders from Lisa Hanson, Douglas Hanson and Joan Kapeccas shortly after the Mexican restaurant, located at the corner of 19th and State Streets, opened. Today, that location is home to The Mint restaurant.
Construction continues on the new Ponderosa Steak House in this 1973 photo. The building, at 2526 Rose St., became North Country Steak Buffet in 1999.
Shakey’s Pizza Parlor and Ye Public House is shown here in 1973 shortly before it opened at 1227 S. Third St. Later, a Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream restaurant opened at that site, which today is occupied by Dave’s Guitar Shop.
This photo shows the Fireside Restaurant after its dining room was remodeled in 1973. The supper club, located at 9402 Hwy. 16, was opened in 1946 by Ivan Peterson. After the La Crosse restaurant closed in May 1988, the building was demolished to make way for a Barnes & Noble Bookstore. Today, the site is home to a Walgreens.
Charles Hoffman, president of Hoffman House Restaurants, and Mary Lou Mason are served coffee in the new Hoffman House Restaurant, which opened inside the Midway Motor Lodge, 1835 Rose St., in 1972. In 1983, Ken and Jay Proksch began leasing the restaurant and renamed it Moxie’s. It changed names again, in 1999, to River Jack’s, and later to Black River Bar & Grill. Today it has the Moxie’s name once again.
Louis and Lialys Bantle raise their glasses in a toast to the new owner of Louie Bantle’s Restaurant, Max Kottmer, right. Louis started his restaurant career in 1944 when he became part owner of Fifth Avenue Buffet. Then, in 1947, he purchased La Conga at 312 S. Third St. and renamed it Louie Bantle’s Restaurant. Today, the La Crosse Professional Plaza is located at that site.
Myron “Mike” Peterson, owner of the Royale Pie Shop, is shown in 1971 shortly before his business at 915 Fifth Ave. S. closed. Peterson estimated he made 2 million pies during the 35 years he was in business. The site today is a duplex.
Chicago’s Beef & Etc. closed in August of 2017 when owner Ed Pisarik retired. The restaurant had been located at 1203 La Crosse St. for 21½ years.
Owner Arthur Grathen is shown here in 1971 shortly before his restaurant, Kewpee Lunch, closed. It was best known for its hamburgers. Grathen opened the restaurant at 314 S. Fourth St. in 1938 with his brother-in-law Harry Vokel, when burgers sold for 5 cents. The price gradually increased over the years before peaking at 20 cents. Today, the storefront is occupied by Designing Jewelers.
Bridgeman’s Ice Cream opened in August 1971 at 3716 Mormon Coulee Road. It was renamed Wayne’s Family Restaurant in 1992 before closing.
The Dog House Restaurant opened in September 1965. On hand for the opening were, from left, local franchise owner William Jefferson company President Ross Marino. The eatery, located at the corner of Losey Boulevard and State Road, was open 24 hours a day. Hobbit Travel now occupies the corner.
The Swiss Chateau, a cheese, wine and specialty food shop, opened at corner of Third and Ferry streets in 1964. It later added a restaurant called Cheddar and Ale. Today, that site is a sales lot for Toyota of La Crosse.
Henry’s Drive-In — which featured a menu of hamburgers, french fries and milkshakes — opened in 1962 at the corner of Seventh and King streets. The building was torn down in 1981 to make way for Godfather’s Pizza. That site is home to Pizza Doctors today.
The Triangle Cafe, which opened in 1951, was a popular breakfast spot in downtown La Crosse. Shown in this 1954 photo are, from left, owner H.F. (Herb) Troyer, Betty Troyer, Mary Kreutzer and Thomas Baldwin. The restaurant’s building at 601 Main St. was demolished to make room for Gateway Terrace Condominiums.
Louis Athnos, second from right, stands behind the counter inside the Harmony Cafe, 128 N. Third St. The cafe closed in the 1950s, and today the location is home to The State Room.
Dorothy Sheehan serves a customer during the last week of business at South Avenue Cafeteria in 1983. The building was demolished shortly after the restaurant closed. Gundersen Health System’s Founders Building occupies the spot today.
A circa 1966 view of the Penguin Drive-In, 3317 Mormon Coulee Road, at that time next to a Texaco gas station. The Penguin, which was first operated by Orville Maxwell, was a popular spot for ice cream treats and was in business from 1966 to 1973, according to city directory files. The old Penguin building is long gone and its former site is now occupied by Engelson & Associates, LTD., an accounting and tax consultant firm.
The TGI Fridays in Onalaska closed in September 2019. The The restaurant, located in Pralle Center, opened in March 2001.
Brie Thompson, from left, Dustin Thompson, Zoa Ryan, and Peter Beard, opened their “Blade Runner” inspired noodle bar, Fat Porcupine, at 127 S. Fourth St. in early December. The bar closed July 31 due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Burger Fusion closed in downtown La Crosse
Steve Cahalan
Steve Cahalan can be reached at stevecahalan.reporter@gmail.com.

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Owner Tara Jergenson opened Bjorn Naturals in August at 16935 N. Main St. in downtown Galesville. It sells lots of products made with natural ingredients.
Bjorn Naturals opened in August at 16935 N. Main St. in downtown Galesville. It’s in part of a building that also houses a State Farm Insurance agency’s office, and is across the street from an Express Mart convenience store/gas station.
Lenny Matiak, above, said this Friday will be the final day for Lenny’s Shoe Repair Shop at 721 Clinton St. because he is retiring after 64 years of working with shoes.
Lenny Matiak, who said Friday will be the last day for his Lenny’s Shoe Repair at 721 Clinton St. because he is retiring, has not decided whether to try to rent or sell the building, which he and his wife own.
Steve Cahalan
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