| Feb 12, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - February 12, 2009 New manager takes the reins of Plevna’s one-stop-shopBy Julie Druker

In the kitchen at Plevna's North of 7 cooks Ruth Barr (left) and Kathy Rosenblath

Back in October last year, long-time Plevna resident Donna Lemke put forth an offer to Don Raycroft, owner of the Plevna Freshmart, gas bar and North of 7 Restaurant, to act as manager of his 6-year-old operation.

Don, whose wife recently passed away and who spends his winters in Florida, had been looking to slow down and enter retirement but was also hoping to grow his business. Donna felt with her years of experience as a franchise owner and operator in Perth, she would be a viable candidate for the job.

Donna admitted that there is "a lot to learn" as the job includes working with the close to 20 staff who offer a number of other related services in the multi-faceted business operation. These include a post office franchise, a bottle return, movie rental, ice cream bar, mini-putt golf course, and internet services.

The job might make other less experienced persons a little nervous but Lemke is looking forward to the challenge and has begun to make some changes, starting with the menu in the restaurant. She explained, “ The senior staff and I are still tweaking the new menu and we’re aiming for a fresh look and will be offering more choices.”

Some of the menu changes will include a platter option for most of the sandwich and burger meals, smaller and less expensive senior-sized main entrees, and activity placemats/children’s menus to offer to the kids and keep them occupied. The restaurant will also be offering a new smorgasbord-style brunch on Sundays from 10am -2pm. The first brunch will happen Sunday February 15.

Also new is a meeting/events room that was renovated last fall, which can be booked for various functions. It is adjacent to but separate from the main restaurant, and food is also available there.

Donna understands the first rule of growing a business. “I know that the presence of someone in charge can make all of the difference.” So she has been on site regularly interacting both with staff and patrons. She added, “Coming into an already existing business is always a challenge but the staff here have all been very receptive and helpful.”

Donna’s husband Ron Lemke, though not officially involved in the operations, adds an unofficial helping hand and was installing a bulletin board on the day of my interview. Ron was enthusiastic about the facility and grateful to have it here. “We’re very lucky Don decided to retire here and we’re very fortunate as a community to have all of these services here on account of him.”

Ron is not the only appreciative one. On my way out I met Ted and Janet Kewley from Mountain Chute near Calabogie, who had just dismounted their snow machine after completing the 62 km one way trip from Calabogie for their third time this year. They were heading into the restaurant for a bite to eat and both spoke effusively about the services available here. Located on major sledding routes, the business is a popular destination for sled drivers since it offers parking, gas and a place to eat. Seasoned sled driver Ted explained, “It’s not unusual on a sunny weekend day to see 50 or 60 machines parked outside here, with almost all of their riders gassing up and having a meal inside.” The summer can be easily as busy with summer vacationers and cottagers frequenting the amenities offered here. Donna Lemke definitely has her work cut out for her as the new manager of Plevna’s one-stop-shop in North Frontenac, but it is a challenge that she has happily chosen to undertake with confidence and know how. 

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.