Teluwut owner Troy Krahenbuhl stands behind the bar of the restaurant, which opened in October in Lake Mills. --Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune
Teluwut owner Troy Krahenbuhl stands behind the bar of the restaurant, which opened in October in Lake Mills. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Archived Story

Teluwut. It’s a real surprise

Published 11:28am Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The restoration of a downtown building in Lake Mills has led to increased traffic from residents in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.

Through the efforts of nonprofit Lake Mills Entertainment Inc. and Teluwut restaurant owners Troy Krahenbuhl and his sister, Becky Wagner, the building at 220-224 W. Main St. has become the buzz of this small town.

Light shines through corner windows and brightens the place. The Teluwut restaurant can seat as many as 120 people.
Light shines through corner windows and brightens the place. The Teluwut restaurant can seat as many as 120 people.

“You come in here, and you think you’re in a big city,” Krahenbuhl said. “It looks like something you would find in Minneapolis or Des Moines.”

Teluwut offers American-casual style food — a large menu with everything from salads, burgers and sandwiches to seafood, ribs and even steak.

The restaurant has been busy most nights since opening, with some days there even being a waiting line, Krahenbuhl said. About half of his customers are from out of town.

“It’s been nuts,” he said.

The restaurant has also impacted the number of customers in other downtown businesses.

“We’re happy to have Troy and Becky here,” said Scott Helgeson, chairman of Lake Mills Entertainment Inc. “There have been some positive effects.”

 

The transformation

Lake Mills Entertainment took possession of the building, which is a former First National Bank in one part and a jewelry store in the other, in 2009.

With prior experience renovating The Mills theater down the street, the nonprofit’s board members thought it would be a worthwhile project, Helgeson said. The organization owns five buildings on the street.

The first year after the purchase was spent mainly on cleanup, he said. After that came new floors, furnaces, walls and a roof, among other improvements.

Old Lake Mills photos and jerseys hang on a wall at the Teluwut restaurant.
Old Lake Mills photos and jerseys hang on a wall at the Teluwut restaurant.

Helgeson said the more than $400,000 project was made possible through grants from the city of Lake Mills and the Hanson Foundation.

Economic development officials recruited Teluwut, which has other locations in Osage and Cresco, Iowa, to come to town and rent the building.

Krahenbuhl said when he first walked into the space before the renovations were completed, the ceiling had fallen on the floor in some parts, and in other places he had to watch his step.

“Now I would say it’s one of the neatest looking restaurants in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota,” said Krahenbuhl.

He and his crew brought in a bar, kitchen, light fixtures, wall decorations and furniture to transform the space into a restaurant. They even utilized a former bank vault in the building for seating.

The whole restaurant seats 120 people and employs roughly 40.

The success comes as Lake Mills Entertainment is working to complete a second screen at the theater down the street.

“There was no one around here at 9, but now there is,” Helgeson said.

While there is still work to be done on the exterior of the restaurant, he said he and the other board members with Lake Mills Entertainment are pleased with the success thus far.

The restaurant is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

It can be reached at 641-592-3303.