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Ashtabula restaurant, bar under new ownership

May 30, 2012

Lake Ashtabula’s East Crossing resort.

Those who spent Memorial Day weekend at Lake Ashtabula’s East Crossing resort might have noticed some new faces and a fresh coat of blue paint on the walls of the Ashtabula Crossing restaurant.

The popular eatery, located less than 20 miles from Valley City, is under new ownership as of April 9. Mary Jean Cuffe, formerly of Breezy Point, Minn., her sister Patty Hoff, and Patty’s husband Scott, formerly of Perley, Minn., purchased the restaurant and bar from former owner Bob Kelly.

“It was kind of a fluke thing,” Cuffe said. Cuffe was working with a realtor to buy or rent a lake cabin on Lake Ashtabula, and while searching, jokingly said, “For that price, I could buy The Crossing.”

“I told them to let me know if Bob was ever ready to sell, and two days later, he called.” Cuffe said she thinks she just caught him at the right time.

At that point, Cuffe called her sister just to tell her about the opportunity. To Cuffe’s surprise, Patty said she’d talk to her husband, and next thing she knew, all three of them were taking on the opportunity together.

Cuffe gave up a 13-year career as a USDA food inspector, and Patty gave up 20-some years as a team member at Target. Both sisters will equally operate the business, while Scott, who still works full time in the National Guard, will be there when he’s able.

The restaurant and bar, which features some of the same menu items with a few new features, is now officially known as Ashtabula Crossing, instead of Kelly’s Crossing, but locals will still probably call it simply, The Crossing.

The Crossing has expanded into a bake shop and convenience store as well as a place to buy fishing accessories.The bake shop features homemade treats, and the convenience store has beverages, snacks and items that campers, fishers, boaters and swimmers might need. Cuffe said they will be expanding the options once they know what people want and need.

On the restaurant side, customers can order breakfast, lunch and dinner year-round starting at 7 a.m. everyday. The grill will be kept on until 9 p.m., but there isn’t a specific closing time. “It’s crowd pending,” Cuffe said.

The restaurant will feature daily specials. Mondays will be pizza and Italian; Tuesdays will be chicken; Wednesdays will be Mexican; Thursdays will be ribs; Fridays will be fish and shrimp; Saturdays will be steak; Sundays will be cook’s choice.

Cuffe said that the specials will be the same every week, but will be served in a variety of ways.

“On Mexican night, we might have a hotdish or enchiladas or taco bar,” Cuffe explained, “Tuesdays might be chicken parmesan or chicken gizzards.”

Once a month, Saturday’s steak night will be a prime rib night, which they plan to advertise ahead of time to inform customers.

The Crossing was known for its Sunday brunch and lunch buffet, which the owners will continue. The buffet will be open every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with lunch starting at 11:30. The menu will change weekly.

In keeping with tradition, Ashtabula Crossing will host the fireworks display held around the Fourth of July holiday every year. While plans are still in the works, Cuffe said they’re thinking of having a brat stand and beer garden outside during the celebration, which will be held June 30 this year. For those who would like to contribute to funding the display, there is a donation box at the resort.

Another traditional event Ashtabula Crossing will host is the Barnes County Wildlife Tournament held June 8-10. Cuffe said that if tournament participants want special bait for this and other tournaments, they can let her know ahead of time, so she can place special orders.

Fishermen can also choose from the vast array of original, one-of-a-kind fishing accessories for sale at Ashtabula Crossing. Cuffe does her own tying of fishing lures, and both she and Patty hand-paint blades. They also do custom tying for specific orders.

What started as a hobby grew to a service to bait shops in the Breezy Point and Brainerd, Minn. area, Cuffe said.

“In fact I used to sell to (former owner) Bob,” she said.

While keeping the traditional services that customers received from Kelly and his staff, the new owners plan on expanding their services by offering boat and ice house rentals in the future. “This first year, we’ll get our feet on the ground and go from there. See what our options are from the (Corps of Engineers),” Cuffe said.

Former owner Kelly has helped helped the new owners get their feet on the ground the business started. “Bob has been very wonderful and supportive,” Cuffe said. He helped them with vendors and told them what to expect with tournaments.

As new owners, Cuffe said they’re open to comments and ideas. Customers can call the new phone number at 701-845-8710.

Cuffe said that customers seem to be pleased with what they’re doing. “We’re really excited to have this opportunity. It’s a lot of hours, but we really enjoy it.”

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