By Amanda Fanger, (Webster) Reporter and Farmer
Club Eden began in May 2005. In a town with a population of 89, the new owners knew they needed to do something different to succeed.
So Club Eden opened as an investor-owned bar and cafe. The business gives their financiers the opportunity to work off their investments.
“You don’t see very many businesses where you can do that,” said general manager Jenny Roerig, who has been involved in the business since its inception. “My age and younger had the opportunity to work their investments off. It was for those in their 20s without the opportunity to chunk down large sums of cash.”
Roerig said they paid it off by doing little odd jobs such as carpentry, bookkeeping, bartending, cooking and anything else that might need done.
“We knew we needed people, and we knew we needed younger people involved to make it work,” she said. “We wanted people with a vested interest in what they’re doing.”
Today, the business is backed by 20 investors from a wide area and governed by a board of directors. They’re from such places as Eden, Webster, Roslyn, Sisseton, Britton, Langford, Pierpont, Watertown, Sioux Falls, Beresford, Minnesota and even as far as Wisconsin.
“Each brings something to the table. We have a really good group of investors,” Roerig said.
Club Eden employs 35 individuals on a part-time basis, many of whom are investors.
“The burnout rate is very high in this type of business. It’s good to see so many involved,” Roerig said, which makes sharing the workload easier.
Roerig thinks Club Eden is good for the town. She says, “This is kind of the heart of our community. It brings in a lot of people to our area.”
The business claims a 60-mile customer base. Roerig says they even get a few who cross the state line from the north to patronize them.
She said the business wasn’t always doing as well as it is now, however. When they first started out, Roerig said one of the biggest challenges was for Club Eden to throw off the reputation of the old business.
“We had to prove ourselves,” she said. “We’re in an area where we’re 20 miles from everywhere. Our goal is to always give them a reason to come to Eden.”
Roerig said that improving service was the biggest thing they had to look at doing in order to get on people’s radar. So far, it’s been working.
“Just on Wednesday nights we have hundreds of people come through,” Roerig said. “It’s something that puts us on the map.”
The current record for number of wings sold on one night is 5,636. That’s more than Buffalo Wild Wings, according to Roerig.
Seeing a business succeed in a small town lifts the community’s morale, Roerig says.
“I think the community has fun seeing so many people come in,” she said.
Of the down sides to this type of business structure, Roerig says there aren’t many. However, “This business answers to a lot of people. There’s good to that too… There’s definitely
more positives than negatives.”
Looking forward to their 10-year anniversary next year, Roerig says, “I think we’ve finally fully established who we are.”
In 10 more years, “I hope we’re still fresh, fun and offer good quality. I hope we’re still here.