The New Pine Ridge Restaurant re-opens
Following a four-month hiatus due to construction at a new location, the new Pine Ridge Family Restaurant re-opened for business on Aug. 28 at the former Champ’s Restaurant location at 1302 N. Center Ave. in Merrill.
According to owner Qemal “Kim” Alimi, business picked up right where it left off.
“We have stayed pretty busy since the first day we re-opened,” Alimi says.
Alimi closed the restaurant’s former location at 300 S. Pine Ridge Ave. on April 26, after accepting an offer from La Crosse based gas station/convenience store heavyweight Kwik Trip.
“Kwik Trip was looking at several options including my restaurant and gas station and even the hotel out there. They were coming whether I sold or not,” Alimi explains. “Kwik Trip is a huge business and not many people can compete with them. I know for sure I couldn’t, especially since gas stations aren’t really my specialty anyway. They made a good offer and I accepted.”
When Kwik Trip first expressed interest, Alimi was in the process of replacing the roof and heating system at the old location. When the work had been completed, the company offered to add $25,000 to the purchase price for Alimi’s restaurant and gas station; half the price of the renovations Alimi completed.
“That was very fair of them, like I said they made a good offer,” he said.
The new building is smaller than its predecessor at approximately 3,700 square feet, but Alimi says it’s also cheaper to maintain.
“Everything is brand new here. From the roof to the floor and insulation: all new. I also brought over the new heating system from the old place. Now I don’t have to worry about the constant repairs and maintenance issues I had at the old place,” Alimi says.
Alimi chose the Champ’s location primarily due to its centralized location in the city.
“I have wanted to move closer into town for a while,” Alimi explains. “I looked at a few different options, but Champ’s was the best. I spoke to owner Ryan Schwartzman, he told me the place was for sale, we negotiated a price and he accepted.”
Construction went smoothly according to Alimi. Aside from a few delays due to heavy rain over the summer, everything was completed on time.
The new location has a maximum seating capacity of 160. Customers can expect to find all of their old favorites on the menu along with a few new items. The same faces can be found at the new location as well.
As for expanding on his restaurant expertise in the area, Alimi leaves it up to fate.
“Who knows,” Alimi adds with a chuckle and smile, “anything is possible!”
Pine Ridge Family Restaurant also maintains its former business hours of 5 a.m.-10 p.m.