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February 2, 2006

Old restaurant may take on new owners

      TRAVERSE CITY - A landmark restaurant in Old Town could re-open soon under new ownership.
      Two groups that include local restaurant owner Jeff Lobdell of Grand Rapids filed a court motion late last month to purchase Dill's Olde Towne Saloon on Union Street in Traverse City, and Boone's Prime Time Pub in Suttons Bay.
      Former owner Barry Boone shuttered Dill's restaurant in March. Northwestern Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings in late April against Dill's and some of Boone's other operations, including the Prime Time Pub and his cattle-raising business in Lake City.
      "We're optimistic and hopeful the court will approve the sale," said attorney Jim Boyd, the court-appointed receiver for the properties. "We're hopeful Dill's will be open by this summer."
      According to court records, the Dill's property would be sold for $1,325,000 while the sale price for the Prime Time Pub is $1,275,000. The pub, along M-22 in Suttons Bay, remained open during the foreclosure proceedings.
      Lobdell, a partner in the Omelette Shoppe restaurants in Traverse City and owner of the Beltline Bar and other eateries in Grand Rapids, would own and operate the Prime Time Pub. Dill's would be operated by a group that includes his brother Greg and Jon Carlson of North Peak Brewing Co.
      "They're both very attractive establishments with great reputations and name recognition," said Lobdell, named this week as vice president of the Michigan Restaurant Association
      Dill's dates to 1886 when it was opened by a Bohemian named Antoine Novotny who named it Novotny's Saloon. It's a state-registered historic site and served as a "social center of the city's south side" in the late 1800s, according to state historians.
      City officials said they are eager to see the well-known restaurant re-opened as soon as possible.
      "It's been kind of sad to see it empty for so long," said Bryan Crough, executive director of the city's Downtown Development Authority. "It's been a major anchor to the Old Town community in all directions."
      It was purchased in 1939 by its current namesake, William Dill, who opened a meat market and vegetable stand at the site.
      A fire gutted the building on April 22, 1978, although the business re-opened just 10 weeks later. A trio of local businessmen later bought the pub and sold it to Boone six years ago, and he did extensive renovations on the restaurant.

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