Rusty Rhymer looking for a buyer for the Corner Cafe in Taunton
TAUNTON — After 30 years, Rusty Rhymer is ready for a change.
His Corner Cafe, supper club and catering business is for sale. He plans to continue looking for a buyer until the end of 2018. At that point, he might close the business if a buyer doesn’t come forward.
“I really hope someone will want it,” Rhymer said. “I hope I don’t have to make the decision to just lock the door.”
He said the decision to sell the cafe is based on a desire to finish his career with a different job, one with steadier hours that gives him more time with his family.
He took over the business in 1988 from a brother-in-law. He met his wife, Paula (Breyfogle) Rhymer, when he was 10 years old. Their families were friends because both were in the restaurant business in the local area.
Paula died in August, 2017, after battling leukemia for three years.
“Some people have wondered if I just lost interest in the business because my wife passed away,” Rhymer said.
“That’s not the reason I want to sell. We’d talked before about maybe making a change. For personal reasons it’s the right thing to do.”
He’ll decide about what kind of job to take later in 2018. He has a business administration degree from Southwest Minnesota State University.
He plans to continue living in Taunton, where he serves as a city council member and a volunteer for the local fire department in addition to running his restaurant business.
“After all these years I’m definitely a Tauntonite,” Rhymer said. “I feel a strong connection to the community and a personal investment in it. That’s why I priced my business to sell.”
Rhymer is asking $145,000 for the Corner Cafe. The price includes both of his catering vans, all of his furniture and fixtures, a well-updated and expanded kitchen, and a walk-in cooler.
The cafe seating area includes a Minnesota-style fishing decor and traditional wood booths. The supper club room with more upscale seating and decorations was started by a previous owner who created it from a former game room.
Rhymer began his restaurant career in the Twin Cities metro area. As a resident of Wayzata, he learned the business as a home-style cook.
“I’m hoping that someone will like the atmosphere of a small-town business,” he said. “In the Twin Cities I was a cook in the kitchen who never saw the customers. At our business, everyone does a little of everything.”
He thinks the biggest obstacle to finding a buyer will be the need for a new owner who’s willing to work long hours. Even at slower times of the year, he works 50 to 60 hours a week. At the busier times for catering, his work week stretches to about 80 hours.
Another stumbling block could be the difficulty finding restaurant employees, which is evident based on the number of Marshall establishments that post Help Wanted signs.
“It’s the same everywhere,” Rhymer said. “I’ve had good employees over the years, but cooks and servers are hard to find.”
He said the Corner Cafe could have many rewards for a person, couple, or family who likes to cook and likes to interact with people.
“I’m willing to train anyone who’s motivated and wants to learn,” he said. “I’d stay involved as long as I’m needed to have a good transition.”
He said he’s looking forward to the next step in his career and personal life.
“The Corner Cafe has been very important to me, but I don’t think of it as my legacy,” Rhymer said. “I’m a man who loves my faith, my family and my friends. That’s what I want to be remembered for the most.”
The Corner Cafe is located across the street from Taunton State Bank. President Duane Peterson said the bank is very interested in the future of the business.
“It’s been very successful, and would be a great opportunity for a young or middle aged buyer who wants to run a business,” Peterson said. “We’d give someone all the support we can. Taunton would almost be lost without it.”
Chris Johnson of Willow Lake, South Dakota, had lunch last week at the Corner Cafe for the first time. He ordered a traditional burger and fries followed by homemade lemon meringue pie.
“I’m very impressed with it,” Johnson said. “Both the food and the service are great.”
Larry Gehrking of Canby, who has often eaten at Rusty’s, said the business has many loyal customers from an area around Taunton, which has a population of 135.
“It’s always a good place to eat out,” Gehrking said. “Their prime rib sandwiches are awesome. They also have the best hash browns I’ve ever tasted. I’ve traveled to other parts of the country and have never found hash browns better than what I can have here.”