Wahlstrom’s Restaurant closing after 50-plus years

HARVEY – A family-run restaurant that’s been in business for more than five decades is shutting its doors Sunday.

Wahlstrom’s Restaurant, Lounge and Catering Service, located at 5043 U.S. 41 South in Harvey, will end almost 52 years of serving customers a wide range of food – including its famous pies.

A letter to customers placed on the cash register explained that despite its best attempts, “efforts to negotiate a new lease remain unsuccessful.”

“The biggest problem we had is that we couldn’t keep up with the taxes,” owner Steve Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom is the son of the original owners, Anna and the late Roy Wahlstrom. Anna still bakes potpies for the restaurant.

“We’re the last of the large family restaurants in the area,” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom said he has many cherished memories about the restaurant.

“As a family, it was fun,” he said. “We had a few employees that were just like family at the time.”

Not only did numerous customers come through its doors, the restaurant had an effect on the local youngsters who had entered the world of employment through Wahlstrom’s.

“We taught all the kids in the area, literally thousands of employees, their first job, responsibility,” Wahlstrom said.

Wahlstrom said the relationship between the restaurant and the steady customers who kept it in business was really “unbelievable.”

It being a restaurant, tasty food, of course, had to be a draw.

John Whitney of Harvey is one loyal customer, coming into the restaurant every few weeks.

“The best is actually the pie,” Whitney said. “I’ll miss that.”

The loyal customers also weren’t always local. Dan and Char Hewitt of Brimley regularly came to Wahlstrom’s when they visited their son in Harvey.

“When we’re here, we eat here,” said Dan, whose favorite dish was the farmer’s omelet.

“I’m a salad eater,” Char said, “so I like their chef’s salad.”

Eating lunch Thursday, though, she planned to order a pasty.

Wahlstrom said, “We try to make the food good, from scratch. We try not to use a lot of preservatives.”

However, Wahlstrom said he believes many people took the restaurant for granted, thinking it would always be there.

Manager Sarah Lindberg agreed.

“I think people just count on us being here instead of taking the time out to come,” she said.

Still, a family running a restaurant for more than 50 years isn’t something everyone can accomplish.

“It’s a bittersweet week, I know,” Lindberg said. “On its own, it’s a huge accomplishment.”

About 30 people were employed at the restaurant, she said.

Wahlstrom said he is trying to find another place for the restaurant to help the employees.

Friends and patrons still have a chance to enjoy a get-together at 2 p.m. Saturday when Wahlstrom’s hosts a Halloween/lounge party, which will include costume contests, Lindberg said.

They can make their final goodbyes when the restaurant officially closes at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s inevitable, but it’s just the way it is,” Wahlstrom said,

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.