Millions spent to renovate Valley Lounge
One of the oldest establishments in Eagan will be new again later this month.
According to its website, Yankee Tavern is planning to open Sept. 25, with a grand opening Sept. 30 at the former Valley Lounge location on the northwest corner of Yankee Doodle Drive and Highway 13.
Owners Charlie Burrows and Linda Young know the restaurant industry well, particularly in the south metro.
They’re the owners of Lucky’s 13 Pub chain, which has locations in Mendota Heights and Burnsville, along with Me & Julio’s in Hastings and Rudy’s Redeye Grill in Rosemount.
Yankee Tavern’s menu includes breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Its signature items include southern fried chicken and house smoked ribs, along with sandwiches, burgers, pork chops and seafood.
Current owners purchased the location from longtime Valley Lounge owner James Tousignant about a year ago.
The original restaurant was built sometime in the 1940s. Tousignant purchased the property in 1967 and operated it as a full service restaurant and bar for about 50 years.
The new owners have been relentlessly renovating the location since closing on the site.
“I shudder to think what you unearthed, no offense to previous ownership,” Mayor Mike Maguire said during Monday’s City Council meeting.
The owners were asking for approval to build a outdoor patio during Tuesday’s meeting.
They’ve committed approximately $2.4 million investment in the property, according to city documents.
“The building, when they took it over, met no code whatsoever,” said Steve Enyeart, representing the applicant during last month’s public hearing. “They have put a tremendous amount of money into rebuilding this building to make it something special for the city of Eagan, for the local companies and the citizens.”
The interior has been completely redesigned to include a large rectangular bar, new kitchen, new seating and new restrooms.
The exterior has been updated to include a stone facade, new vinyl siding, new roof, new windows and doors.
The heating, air conditioning, water and sewer systems were also replaced.
“They’re essentially starting from scratch but keeping the shell,” said Mike Ridley, city planner.
The site’s six bocce ball courts are expected to be retained.
The owners asked to add an outdoor dining area with 52 seats and two volleyball courts northwest of the building.
Adding an outdoor patio would normally lead to platting of the property. The owners felt the plat process would lead to an excessive amount of expense and time and asked for it to be waived. The City Council agreed.
Bill Kranz, an attorney representing the owners, said platting would likely involve the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which could lead to expensive changes to the parking lot.
“In this case, quite frankly, this historically has been an interesting site,” Maguire said. “I don’t know what public purpose is served at this point by requiring a platting.”
Council Member Paul Bakken said this “isn’t a non-complaint property,” and agreed platting the property doesn’t serve a purpose.