Crafting Success-Dave Forland

Dave Forland-Old Mill2011

By Trey Mewes

The Old Mill Restaurant is a well-known fixture in Mower County. More than 100yearsold, it was showing it's age and more when Dave Forland and his wife, Ann, bought it in 1987.
"I always did the two-job thing," Forland said. "I worked at the Hormel plant and then cooked at the restaurant at night, or vice versa. One day I thought to myself, 'I work too hard to work for somebody else.'"
When the Forlands bought the Old Mill, it was in tough shape. There were no electric lights anywhere, and getting a beer from the cooler involved getting a flash-light out to go find it. It wasn't a daunting task for Forland, however, as he loves putting things back together.
"I'm kind of a fixer guy," Forland said. "I always say I can MacGyver anything."
Forland's passion for fixing and upgrading shows: 22 years later, his restaurant has flourished, its beer list growing to more than 60 beers a week. He's also still fixing and improving the restaurant, including some of the cabinets and doors, when he's not working on his own home, located across the street from the Old Mill.
For fun, Forland cuts wood. He's mildly interested in some of the green and sustainable building practices that have become recently trendy, and as a result cuts firewood for his home's wood boiler, which heats his entire house and two outlying buildings. He's about to try a solar project or two as well in his home, just to see if it works.
"It's pretty green," Forland said. "It's pretty neat."
In recent years Forland has become something of an expert on beer, as he's seen more people enjoying wine and beer rather than liquor when they eat out. That's why he's stocked up on beer varieties to ensure the Old Mill has a lot of choices. His beer knowledge was tapped last year when he was one of the 20 beer contest judges at the Steele County Fair.
I've gotten to do the beer thing here forever," Forland said. "It just takes a long time to catch on."