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New ownership, different menu items, same service atmosphere: The Hubbell House reopens

The Hubbell House is one of the most famous dining locations in all of Southeast Minnesota. After being closed for five months and changing ownership, the Mantorville restaurant reopened its doors Tuesday.

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The Pappas room, formerly known as the Ramsey room, now pays tribute to the former longtime owners, the Pappas family, with portraits of Don Pappas' parents at The Hubbell House in Mantorville on Tuesday, May 10, 2022.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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MANTORVILLE — After a five-month hiatus and change of ownership, Mantorville’s popular The Hubbell House reopened its doors Tuesday, May 10, 2022.

The ownership of The Hubbell House changed Jan. 3, 2022, from longtime owner Don Pappas and his family to Joe Powers and Powers Ventures. Back in the fall of 2019, Pappas was debating a change of ownership for The Hubbell House and was grateful when it ended up being Powers who had interest in the restaurant.

“It was a pretty smooth process actually,” said Pappas. “Once I put the word out with a few friends that I might be interested in selling, within a week, I heard there was a very strong possibility of it being someone very good. A couple of weeks after that, we were getting together. (Powers) and his two sons came out, and we sat down at my kitchen table upstairs. After that, I knew this was gonna happen.”

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While Powers and Pappas clicked when it came to a change in ownership, the timing was not perfect.

Just when Pappas and Powers originally intended for the ownership to change, the first wave of COVID-19 shutdowns hit the United States. Even with that challenge, Powers still organized his assets in this acquisition to make the change a possibility.

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“The big thing for me was whether or not our company could handle it because we're extremely diversified,” said Powers. “When COVID hit, we had a deal done but we were heavily affected by COVID. So we shut the 'House' down, and when we saw the light at the end of the tunnel with COVID, we wanted to make sure that everything was going to come back to normal before we did anything more.”

Once the keys were handed over on Jan. 3, the renovation process began. The kitchen became completely refurbished and brand new stovetops and equipment were installed. The bar at The Hubbell House also received renovations as the plumping and pipes for the bar were becoming outdated.

There have been changes to the menu too, though classic items such as the garlic bread, steakhouse salad, and the prime rib remain. There are also new items such as crab cakes and jumbo shrimp entree. Powers shared how it was important to keep many of the favorites for customers, but add new tastes to the menu as well.

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The new bar set up at The Hubbell House in Mantorville, Minn, on May 10, 2022, retains the old charm of the former set up while bringing a modern update.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

“Everything that represents the menu here for decades hasn’t changed, but a chef wants to be a chef. And I can't say to a chef, we're going to give the same menu, because that's no fun for them. So the creativity of the chefs comes out in the menu itself, but the majority of the menu is all the same,” said Powers.

Even with the change of ownership, Pappas will not be entirely away from The Hubbell House, which has been like a home for him his entire life. Pappas resides above the restaurant in an apartment that used to be a part of the original hotel in Mantorville. Pappas will still take the opportunity to help out Powers and The Hubbell House when he has the time, and show his face to talk with customers whenever they ask for them.

“I'll be involved a little, I might be like a consultant or just a guy that comes around and says, hello, or if they want my opinion on something," Pappas said. "I try not to get too involved. It's their place now and I don't want to step out of my place.”

With The Hubbell House reopening Tuesday, Powers and Pappas are excited for what’s to come over the summer months as people flock back to the historic Minnesota restaurant.

“I've been doing this for 39 years myself. I started my restaurant when I was 21 years old. I think people will find out that I highly respect the Pappas family," Powers said. "When we did the soft opening, we put our steaks on the menu, and everybody really, really talked highly of them, so we’re excited about that.”

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Each seat at The Hubbell House on May 10, 2022, in Mantorville, Minn., has place mat on it showcasing printed autographs of celebrities who have dined throughout the decades.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin

“People are just chomping at the bit to get back here. Today a guy pulled up to ask if we’re opening and I stopped and talked to him for a few minutes. I've had that happen numerous times over the last few months. Everybody's really excited, they love Hubbell. I'm really proud of the legacy we left and the two people are just waiting to get back here,” said Pappas.

If you go

The Hubbell House, located at 502 N. Main St. in Mantorville, will be open from 3:30-9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, and closed Mondays.

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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