Turner Hall kitchen closes for remodel

Staff photo by Connor Cummiskey Representatives stand amidst the old kitchen equipment for a photo to celebrate the groundbreaking of Turner Hall’s kitchen remodeling. Pictured from left to right, Head of Building and Grounds Randy Melzer; Ron Pizel, former head of maintenance; Turner President David Hirth; board member Yvonne Weber; Jerry O’Brien, a contractor working on the kitchen; General Manager Virginia Suker-Moldan; Head of Maintenance Dana Woltman; Assistant General Manager Janell Chrobak; board member Terry Sveine; and board member Carol Steinhaus.

NEW ULM — Turner Hall’s kitchen closed Tuesday for a three-month period while it is updated and improved.

Until March 1, 2018, the restaurant will be running a special menu out of an upstairs holding kitchen. The bar will be opening at 3 p.m. and the restaurant will open at 5 p.m. during this period.

“The idea is to make the kitchen more efficient,” General Manager Virginia Suker-Moldan said. “The kitchen was originally built in the 1950s for banquets, and we had a small kitchen for the restaurant. We grew out of the small kitchen about five years ago and we have been running the restaurant out of the big kitchen, which was not built for that.”

The update will change the current circle design into a line kitchen. That way one cook will be able to work multiple stations, all in one line, to prevent too many cooks in the kitchen.

A new, up-to-code exhaust system, layout, floors, walls, ceiling and a separate dedicated space for banquets will be included in the remodeling. The old equipment from the kitchen will be sold either online or to whoever contacts Suker-Moldan to buy it.

The main sewer line will also be updated during this time. It is on its last legs and it runs under the center of the kitchen, so the timing is good, Suker-Moldan said.

In the mean time, a special daily menu will be available. Currently, Mondays are to-be-determined, Tuesdays are a burger bar, Wednesdays are pizza, soup and casserole (though pizza and soup will be available most other days too) and Sundays are German food.

Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at Turner will be a little different. The restaurant is inviting guest cooks.

Thursdays businesses can arrange to have their staff come in and cook for Turner.

Fridays and Saturdays individuals who love to cook are welcome to schedule a night to cook their favorite dish for Turner guests.

Staff will be on hand to assist cooks and to guide them to stay within food safety regulations.

The remodeling is part of a $500,000 capital campaign launched last January. Currently Turner is a little over halfway to its goal, which pays for paving the parking lot in addition to the kitchen and sewer upgrades.

The renovation was scheduled for this time of year because it tends to be a slower time for Turner and for the workers needed.

“We knew that we had to make this happen during January and February because that is the time when there is the least amount of weddings,” Suker-Moldan said. “It is also the time when contractors are slower.”

The 161-year-old New Ulm institution is asking for some help from the community to finish its capital campaign and support it through the updates.

“Turner Hall has been at the heart of New Ulm since it started,” Suker-Moldan said. “We were the first fire department, the first library, the first school. We helped the town grow and now we are in a transition moment where we need the help of the town.”

To purchase old equipment, make donations or schedule a night to cook call Suker-Moldan at (507) 354-2022. For daily specials the restaurant’s number is (507) 354-4916.

Connor Cummiskey can be emailed at ccummiskey@nujournal.com.

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