Doors open soon at 4 Seasons restaurant in Mahtomedi. Broasters for the popular chicken are cleaned and prepped and the homemade root beer equipment is ready to go.
New owners Joe Bevins and his sons Brandon and Austin are bringing the eatery back after it abruptly closed last March.
“We started talking about it, saying, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a restaurant,'” recalled Joe, who has lived on Bevins Lane in Mahtomedi most of his life.
The family does have restaurant experience. The boys have worked at nearby Roma since they were 15; both are cooks; and Joe worked in the kitchen at The Piccadilly in his younger years.
Proud of the eatery's history, the Bevins are sprucing up the old diner with fresh paint and new colors. Black and white photographs from the early 1900s of Wildwood Park still hang on the walls and an original Tilt-a-Whirl remains a fixture on the outdoor patio.
Joe Bevins bought the closed restaurant from former owners Chris and Carol Dettinger. They ran 4 Seasons for 41 years after Chris bought it from his father in 1973, a year before he married Carol. The Dettingers sold it to Chris and Tonia Walline in January 2015. When the couple decided to shut the doors earlier this year, the business went back to the former owners.
“It's always been a family-owned business,” Joe pointed out. An iron worker by trade, he took early retirement after suffering a disability and figured he would take on the business as an investment.
Dettinger has been a big help in the transition, according to the Bevins. He helped clean and refurbish the kitchen equipment, paint and get the new owners up to speed. “Both Chris and Carol have gone out of their way to accommodate us and make sure we're successful,” Joe said.
Roma Restaurant owner Brian Piltrain has also served as a sounding board for his former employees. “Brian says we all need each other,” Joe said. “The restaurant owners want to make the town a mecca for people to dine out. It was that way in the '20s with Wildwood Park.”
The boys are excited to get started. But there are worries, too, Austin admitted. He feels bad to leave Roma but “couldn't pass on this opportunity,” he said.
“At the same time, we think the community will accept it. They want the restaurant back,” Brandon added.
Dettinger can attest to that. “After 4 Seasons closed, I could not believe the Facebook posts about missing the broasted chicken and root beer,” he noted. “I knew they were standout items, but I didn't know to what extent.” They will always be on the menu, assured Joe.
Bevins is a familiar name around Mahtomedi. The entire family, including Joe and wife Karen (Stepan), went to school in Mahtomedi. Joe's dad Robert built custom homes in the area, including the homes on Bevin Lane. Robert Court is named after him.
They all remember eating at the restaurant growing up. Built in 1958, it was first called The Curve because it was built on a curve in the road. The name changed to Fountain Drive-in when Jerry Dettinger bought it and Three Seasons when Chris took over.
Doors should open mid-to-late September. The menu will remain the same for now; but they are open to ideas and eager to please. Specials will include a fish fry on Friday and turkey and stuffing on Sunday. “Wait until you try the turkey stuffing,” Joe said. “It's famous in our family.” The carrot cake is coming back, as are some staff members.
They're also continuing the tradition and donating the broasted chicken for St. Jude's Sept. 7 Corn Fest.
For now, the boys plan to open six days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., closing on Mondays. That is subject to change “as we get a feel for things,” Brandon said. “We're asking people to be patient; we'll work through the speed bumps.”