New T-Road Tavern Owner Takes Hospitality Legacy to Heart
As 2016 was ringing in, longtime owner Patty Dietel passed the baton of ownership for the historic New Germany T-Road Tavern to veteran Kenny Converse. He’s widely known for hosting for many years the popular Delano gathering place called Kenny’s Garage Bar. After that successful amateur adventure, Converse decided to go professional when the tavern became available.
The original plan was to keep the name intact but many people he hosted at his Garage Bar began calling his new enterprise “Kenny’s T-Road Tavern.” Bowing to popular demand, he took a cue from his customers, adding his name to the original.
Though Converse and business partner Joe Lemmerman officially took over on January 1, they have been shadowing Patty Dietel for months, learning the establishment’s legacy, schedule and customer preferences.
The family business theme that has been the hallmark of T-Road will continue. The cooks and staff largely will remain the same, augmented by the new owners’ family members who will soon become familiar faces as they work varied shifts. Kenny’s daughter, Taylor, and her fiancé, Mac, will be among the regular servers, along with Joe’s wife, Patti, and daughters Tabitha and Cheyanne.
“We love (Patty’s) staff. They’re hard-working and scrupulously honest,” said Lemmerman. “They’re part of the family.”
Converse, currently a Delano resident, soon will move to New Germany. Lemmerman, a ReMax Advantage Plus agent working in the Spring Park office, has a long history in the area from playing in softball leagues dating back to the 1980’s. A longstanding friendship among the two new bar owners and James Strehlke may well add events to the T-Road calendar. Strehlke heads up the popular Alpensterne polka band which may lead to play dates at the tavern. He and the owners played on the same softball teams beginning over 30 years ago.
“I met Joey (Lemmerman) through T-Road softball in the 80's. (Our team) went through many name changes, but the players from that core group stayed basically the same. Memories of state tournaments in Austin, 4th of July tournaments in Delano, tournaments at the Hollywood Sports Complex were always highlights,” Strehlke recently recalled.
Otherwise, established events and specials will remain mostly unchanged. T-Road’s dart and pool leagues will continue to cycle through, as scheduled. During warm months the business will serve patrons on the covered patio bar that features a large-screen television. The tavern will continue to sponsor softball teams, host horseshoe and beanbag tournaments, and participate in the annual car show. Occasional entertainment is planned, including acoustic musicians, DJs and Karaoke. Pull tabs, sponsored by the New Germany Fire Department, are available.
The familiar weekly food specials continue, along with occasional bonus items such as Lemmerman’s smoked pulled pork and pork steaks. Patrons will enjoy free fish fries, provided by a local fisherman, and periodic pot lucks.
If it’s Monday, it’s mini burgers. Tacos, of course, come on Tuesdays, and wings on Wednesdays. Thirsty Thursdays follow, with a variety of Happy Hour munchies on Fridays and Saturdays. Sunday Fundays mean bucket beer specials. “The Best Burger on the Planet” will continue to be a menu mainstay.
The new owners are looking to gauge patron interest in reviving the T-Road rental bus that for years shuttled patrons to and from Vikings games and other sporting events, although insurance costs could prove to be prohibitive.
Tavern hours are 11:00 a.m. through close on Sunday through Thursday, and 11:00 a.m. through 1:00 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Happy hours are 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Fridays. Converse and Lemmerman look forward to hosting customers, old and new, from a wide area including Lester Prairie, Winsted, Silver Lake, St. Boni, Waconia, Victoria, Mayer and, of course, Delano.
Longtime T-Road owner, Patty Dietel, said she’s glad to be able to turn over the longtime business and area mainstay to Converse and Lemmerman. “They’re two great guys. They’ve got the perfect personalities for this business. If you could get paid for your personality, they’d both be rich. They’re humble, and eager to serve,” she said, encouraging her past patrons to welcome them.
“I don’t see T-Road changing, just expanding and getting better,” Dietel said.
© Delano Herald Journal 2016