Bailey Ray's hopes to offer a little home to all
By Ken Francis
When Ray Mulvey and his wife Terry Scheck purchased Ridgerunners restaurant in Santiago in August, they knew they would have to close the place down for a while for renovations.
But they didn’t know exactly how anxious the community would be to have the place open again.
“People would stop in while we were working on the place and offer to help,” says Terry. “We had a couple come in with a sander and another offering to help sweep up.”
So it was only appropriate that the couple chose a unique theme to go along with the community atmosphere. “This area, and the entire country, was built by working people,” says Mulvey. “We want to show our appreciation to those people by decorating the place with their history,” says Mulvey.
They want people to bring in things that regular, common people used to build this country - old tools, rakes, wrenches, pitch forks, pulleys, an old typewriter - anything not sports-related.
There are even old historic photographs and postcards laminated into the surface of the new bar, and the individual tables will eventually be done the same way.
By keeping the restaurant alive, Bailey Ray’s will continue a community tradition that has seen the place survive under different owners as The Gin Mill, Stay’s Place, The Back 40 and Ridgerunners.
“Local people were coming in and asking us to hurry and open up,” says Mulvey. “They felt it was their place, and that was a good sign. We bought it, but they owned it.”
Even though Mulvey and Scheck were not involved in the history of the area, it was a way to become involved in the community.
The couple from Blaine had a house built between Santiago and Becker a year ago. Both are nurses: Mulvey, on leave of absence from the Burn Center in St. Paul-Ramsey, and Scheck works with seniors in Forest Lake.
They wanted to get away from all the development in the area, and Mulvey mentioned to his builder, Alan Gilyard of Cmark Builders, that he wanted to buy a bar and restaurant.
“He told us about this place, and we thought it was on a great road with lots of traffic,” says Mulvey. “The area was growing like crazy, and we thought it had potential.”
The decision to buy the restaurant came months later.
“All of a sudden we found ourselves an hour from our jobs,” he says. “I think subconsciously we set it up this way to sort of force the issue. It was a good excuse to buy the place.”
When the restaurant finally opened under the new name Bailey Ray’s in early November, the customers were back.
“You’d think with a population in Santiago of about 100, we wouldn’t get much business,” says Mulvey. “But people have been very supportive, and we haven’t really done much yet to advertise the place.”
In addition to local people, they get customers from Foley, Princeton, Becker, Big Lake and Clear Lake.
Since buying the place, the couple remodeled the entire restaurant, bar and kitchen.
“It’s completely different now,”says Mulvey. “Before, it was pretty dark and drab, and really didn’t flow right.”
The dining area, about 1,400 square feet, has all new walls, ceilings, lighting, custom-made tables and even wood paneling cut from 40 year-old fence lumber.
“It’s a good place for meetings, parties, receptions and live bands,” says Mulvey. “We already have a few Christmas parties scheduled, we had the Lions’ Club in last week and seniors come in to play cribbage and drink coffee.”
They plan to use one corner of the room as a library area for children.
“We have hundreds of books we’ll bring in so when the parents are eating, the kids that are usually crawling under the tables can go over and find something to do,” says Terry.
The kitchen has been totally revamped so that they will be able to expand their menu to serve steaks and lobster tails in addition to the traditional burgers and sandwiches.
Terry’s nephew, Chris, was brought in from Phoenix to help manage the place.
There are two pool tables, dart boards, a few arcade games, a checker board and a Monopoly board laminated onto table tops.
In the future, they will be adding an outdoor volleyball court.
“We’ll have all the usual things you find in a bar,” says Mulvey. “But I want to be clear about one thing - this is not a sports bar.”
“I like sports,” he says. “But it's just that they get credit for making the world go around and that’s not fair to the working people who built the country.”
They would also like to have artists bring in their work to display on the walls of the dining room.
“We help them sell their work, and they help us decorate our walls,” he says. “It’s another way to get people involved and promote the community.”
“It may not seem like much,” he says. “But it’s our own little way to change social consciousness and get everyone to appreciate the common people.”
Bailey Ray’s will be a great place for anyone to feel at home.