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For owners, new restaurant is a dream come true

Jeff and Stacy Schlichter still have a lot of work to do, but they hope to open Blondie's by late July or early August.

Bit by bit, Jeff and Stacy Schlichter are watching a dream take shape around them.

The Farmington couple is in the process of turning a long-vacant storefront in a Farmington strip mall into Blondie's, the restaurant that will serve as a next step in long food-service careers for both.

Stacy Schlichter has worked in food service for more than 20 years, including 15 at Boston Market. Her husband got into the industry at the age of 15 when he started scrubbing pots and pans at St. Olaf University in Northfield. He studied hospitality management at Southwest State University and Normandale Community College, and when he graduated in 1991 he took a job at Perkins. He gives the company credit for mentoring him and said his co-workers became like family.

Two or three years ago, though, the Schlichters decided they wanted to go out on their own. They started looking for locations and considering menus. They thought about franchise opportunities but said they chose to create their restaurant from the ground up because of the independence it would offer.

The couple, who have lived in Farmington since 1996, thought the city was a good spot for whatever restaurant they eventually created.

"We see that there's a niche here and we want to fill it," Jeff Schlichter said.

Ultimately, their discussions led them to Blondie's. The couple spent about 18 months looking for a location for the restaurant. They considered a spot downtown Farmington and one in Farmington Market Square, across from Econo Foods on Elm Street. But they said the location in the Tamarack Ridge mall along Highway 3 was the best choice. They will have just under 5,000 square feet there and room for outdoor seating.

Jeff Schlichter described the menu as American cuisine -- hamburgers and chicken sandwiches. There will be a small bar area.

The restaurant will be open for breakfast and will feature a separate room set up to host meetings and other special events.

Seeing it all takes a lot of imagination right now. Many of the walls still exist only as steel framework, and you can stand at one end of the restaurant and look to the far end of the building, into space the couple will not occupy. The couple imagines earthy tones on the walls and a warm, comfortable atmosphere but they won't make final decisions on the decor until there are actually walls to decorate.

The couple is excited to see it all come together. Jeff has resigned from his Perkins job. His last day was Friday.

"It was kind of a tear-jerking day when I went in and told them I was resigning," he said.

The couple hopes to have the new restaurant ready for business by late July or early August. They plan to have a Facebook page for the restaurant by the end of the week.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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