Chris Kueller and Danielle Lavarnway inside Up A Creek.
Photo by Tim Follos.
Wilmington “I remember my grandmother looking across the street at this place,” said Chris Kueller. “It was for sale, and she said, ‘That place is a goldmine if you get the right person to run it right.’”
Kueller is out to prove his grandmother right.
The grandson of Carl and Bertha Steinhoff, Kueller grew up at his family’s Sportsman’s Inn, a stone’s throw away from a new restaurant in town, Up A Creek, where he works as a chef.
He asked owner Danielle Lavarnway for a job after she purchased the property last summer.
“I came in and told her who I was,” he said. “You’ve got great advertising right there – the grandson of Carl Steinhoff working for you.”
He notes that he uses his grandfather’s recipes.
Up A Creek is in the building that formerly housed the Evening Hatch and, before that, the Pancake Haven.
The restaurant adjoins a well-appointed gift shop and sporting goods store that is aptly called the Great Outdoors.
Both the diner and the store are owned and operated by Danielle Lavarnway, of Morrisonville. She also owns the motel rooms, storefronts and apartments that round out the property. She has never owned a business before; her background is in retail.
“It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” she commented. “I saw the place for sale and figured it was worth a try. It’s a midlife change of pace. I’d been watching property for sale and came across the listing for the place and decided I’d take a look at it. I ended up buying it directly from the bank on a short sale.”
Lavarnway said that her plan was always, “pretty much using the property for what it had available: the restaurant, the store; I’ll eventually get the rental units able to be rented out.”