After almost two decades of chopping onions, kneading dough and making sauce the same way Basil Burger did it in 1960, Jeff Westad is ready to hang up his apron.
Westad, who bought Basilleo’s Pizza 19 years ago, announced Tuesday that he’s selling the iconic downtown Faribault eatery. He’s not, he repeated several times during an afternoon interview, closing.
“I’m ready to pursue another career path,” said Westad.
“I always planned on running Basilleo’s until my kids were through school,” he said in a press release. “With the last one now in high school. I am ready for a change.”
Doing things the way Burger and his brother, Leo, who also ran the now shuttered Wimpys’ restaurant, did is hard on a body, said Westad, who’s had one knee replacement and needs another. Basil Burger was known for making everything from scratch. Though time consuming, it’s still done the old school way at Basilleo’s.
Whoever buys the restaurant will get Burger’s recipes, said Westad, adding that the hand-written secrets are still kept in a tattered, well-worn book.
And though Westad plans to remain with Basilleo’s until the new owner is trained on all the ins and outs of the operation to ensure the pizzas and Italian dishes remain just as Basil Burger made them all those years ago, the thought of leaving the place is bittersweet.
Yes, he’s ready for a 9 to 5 and a real vacation, but he’ll miss the place. But more than that, he’ll miss the people.
“It’s going to be hard to walk away,” he said. His staff and customers have been like family. “Just the relationships you build with the customers. You know them by name, you know their work, their families.”
But he’s at peace with his decision.
“For the new owner, he/she will be getting a great business and a great team,” he said.