August 21, 2019

Historic restaurant changes hands

Posted

STANDISH — Wheeler’s Restaurant, an establishment that has been a part of the Standish community for more than 80 years, has been purchased by Adam Kroczaleski, who aims to make changes while maintaining that Wheeler’s charm.

Residents of Standish may already know Kroczaleski as one of Arenac County’s commissioners and have probably seen him at Wheeler’s, working alongside the former owners and staff getting to know the operations of the restaurant before he officially took over as its owner.

Kroczaleski explained that while working for U.S. Rep. John Moolenaar, he spent a lot of time on the road, running around, and afterward he felt the need to return to his hometown of Standish and get involved with the community.

“I was interested in doing something for myself, being my own boss but also being able to do something here, in the town that I call home,” Kroczaleski said. “The fact that it is part of the community, that’s what interested me in Wheeler’s and not just any old restaurant — because it’s not just any old restaurant.”

Perry and Rose Pelton, the owners and operators of Wheeler’s for the last 26 years, said they put the restaurant up for sale about 10 years ago but had difficulty finding a person they felt would be a proper match for the business.

“No one, we felt, had deep enough roots or believed enough in Wheeler’s Restaurant to carry on the tradition that we have become for customers and travelers,” Perry Pelton said. “Essentially, we interviewed Adam when he first came in here and felt that he was a person that would carry on that tradition, take care of the employees and make sure that Wheeler’s is here for another 83 years.”

Kroczaleski initially spoke with the Peltons in August and since then has been putting time in at the restaurant, learning the ins and outs and preparing for when he would eventually take over as owner.

While one may think it would be tough to transition from politics to the restaurant business, Kroczaleski said he is up for the challenge and, so far, has found that the two are not as different as one would guess.

“You’re doing a lot of talking, a lot of sharing stories and figuring out what’s going on, what people like and what people don’t like,” Kroczaleski said. “It’s kind of that human element in both that is the continuity for me.”

Kroczaleski said he enjoys chatting with customers, sharing stories and finding out how far some people are willing to travel to get a bite at Wheeler’s.

Going forward, Kroczaleski and the Peltons said the challenge would be making beneficial changes to the restaurant while still maintaining that quality that has endured all this time Wheeler’s has been open.

Over the years, several people have come into the restaurant and explained that they and their relatives have been coming to Wheeler’s for years, Perry Pelton said, and even that they have had their first meal after their honeymoon there.

“The reason people are coming into a building that was built in the ’30s is because it was built in the ’30s,” Perry Pelton said. “They like that old-town feel, the old-building feel, and they like something from the past.”

Wheeler’s Restaurant was established in its present location in 1934 by Arthur Wheeler, and has been serving the Standish community ever since.

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NattyinMS

Love this place. My grandmother made pies for Wheelers in 1957. My parents originally from Melita and Omer loved coming to this special restaurant.Now I have brought my daughter and her family from MS. Hope to continue the ritual of stopping at Wheelers. Hope to see you this summer. Thank you for preserving my memories

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