By JON MINNICK
FARIBAULT --They began with hamburgers and tater tots. Next week, they'll sell Alaskan king crab legs and lobster tail for the last time.
The Lavender Inn opened in 1960 as a drive-in eatery with a menu including broasted chicken, hamburgers, and made-from-scratch pies. The menu progressed along with the dining area as the local restaurant and art gallery grew into a well-known attraction, drawing visitors from miles around.
Over Wednesday's lunch hour, however, members of the Faribault Rotary Club were notified that due to the impending sale of the Lavender Inn, they would need to find an alternate meeting location.
Galen Jensen, owner of the Lavender Inn, confirmed to Daily News Wednesday that he will cease operation of the Lavender Inn on Jan. 19. Jensen declined to comment on the new owner or potential uses of the site, saying only that no money has changed hands yet.
"They told us they could only accommodate us for one more week," said Darlene Meillier, president of the Rotary Club. "They've been around for a really long time. We're very grateful -- they've always treated us with the utmost respect."
The Lavender Inn first added a dining room in 1963, and built two more before 1970. In 1970, the restaurant added its art gallery featuring oil paintings and frames. The art gallery was later expanded to include a second room and gift shop.
The 1970s yielded further advancement for the Lavender Inn, including the addition of the Gallery Dining Room in 1972. Located on the second level of the Lavender Inn, the Gallery Dining Room has expanded to hold up to 150 guests at parties and banquets. Thousands of special events --bridal dinners, anniversaries, engagements and birthdays --have been celebrated at the Lavender over the years.
It was upon completion of the Gallery Dining Room that the Rotary Club began holding its meetings at the Lavender and, 30 years later, Meillier said she is appreciative for all that Jensen has done.
"We've relied on them for years to give us storage space," Meillier said. "They, very graciously, have done that without ever charging us. They were wonderful to work with."
Meillier said she does not know where the Rotary Club will meet or store its possessions after Jan. 19. "We have a very short period to vacate," Meillier said. "We don't know what the future will bring for having meetings in that building."
Meillier said she was told that the restaurant would be closing down for a period of time and that the new owner of the Lavender Inn would inform her of any plans to reopen.