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Harry Remembers: The Widening of Land O Lakes Blvd (US HWY 41)

By January 23, 2014Harry Remembers

When Sherry and I opened Hungry Harry’s in 1985 we were warned that US HWY 41 could be widened at any time. Our restaurant building had been many businesses throughout the years from a vacuum repair shop, pizza joint and even another BBQ place (for a short time!) It had also been the home of South Riding Grocery which opened in 1960. The owners of the grocery were told in 1962 that they should prepare to vacate because the road widening project was about to begin. I guess you could say there were a few delays, like 30 years of them! It wasn’t until 1993, almost 10 years after Hungry Harry’s had opened that we received official notice that the project was being funded and that the state was taking, yes taking 35 feet of our property and that Hungry Harry’s would be demolished. Thus began our process of EMINENT DOMAIN!

Through much negotiation and financial consideration with the Department of Transportation we were able to keep half of our building, all of 1700 square feet of it. Our water well supply was now the middle lane of North bound traffic and our complete electric supply was cut off. Now begins the normal, chaotic and very painful bureaucratic process of permitting and rebuilding. We were closed for 8 ½ long months with everyday being full of challenges, to put it mildly.

Starting over! We began our journey the day after the BIG BOWL in January of 1997. Through the massive support and help from our community we were able to reopen on August 20, 1997. Hungry Harry’s can now seat 38 guests in its dining room, down from the 110 we could seat before. THANK YOU to our loyal customers and supporters, because of all of you we were able to survive and prosper. Our restaurant may have gotten smaller in size but it has grown bigger and better than I could have ever imagined.

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Stay tuned for the Story of the Chicken Chapel (the South dining hall.)