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Taste for excellence

Little Fat Gretchen’s wins Chamber award

By Angie Landsverk

Gretchen Halverson’s work day begins at 4 a.m.

That is when she arrives at her restaurant, Little Fat Gretchen’s, in downtown Waupaca.

What happens next depends on who she is working with each particular day.

Together they decide the day’s specials and prepare for the 6 a.m. opening of the café.

“I didn’t start this for me. I started it because I love cooking,” she said. “I did it for everyone who is here.”

Little Fat Gretchen’s is the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce’s 2016 Small Business of the Year Award winner.

Halverson received the award on Tuesday, Jan. 24, when the Chamber held its annual awards program, at the Waupaca Ale House.

“It’s not about me. It’s about all of us,” Halverson said of the recognition.

She sees everyone involved in her business as being an equal part of it.

“It’s a great team. We function well together,” she said. “Every person is very, very important. Each person has their own special talents, and we all work together.”

Halverson opened the restaurant in late 2012, and this is the second Chamber award for her business.

Little Fat Gretchen’s was the Chamber’s 2013 Rising Star Award winner.

With 17 people on staff, Halverson said they are all able to multi-task.

“What most of my customers say to me is they like how they feel when they’re here,” she said. “I think that is because everyone who is here wants to be here.”

Halverson says her employees get along well with each other.

“I want it to be fun. You spend so much of your time at work. You might as well enjoy what you do,” she said.

Since starting the business, Halverson has expanded the restaurant’s kitchen, bought a new air conditioner and implemented a point of sale system.

“It helps me see what actually sells and what doesn’t and know what the sales are per girl,” she said of the system.

From home, she is able to check how many desserts are left, so she knows what she needs to do the next day.

Little Fat Gretchen’s is known for its daily selection of pies and other desserts.

During the summer, Halverson makes about 16 pies every other day and sometimes every day.

This time of the year, she makes between six and ten pies every third day.

Her restaurant attracts people of all ages.

The compliments older people give her are the most flattering, Halverson says.

She likes to use local produce and also said many items on her menu may easily be adapted to vegetarian offerings.

Halveron appreciates her landlord, who is John Ryan, and says she is lucky to be surrounded by some of the best people around.

Chamber President Terri Schulz said that in addition to Little Fat Gretchen’s, Amazing Cleaning Services and T-Dub’s Public House were also nominated for the Small Business of the Year Award.

“Gretchen (Halverson) had a vision and created a unique dining location in our downtown. By offering a large selection of specialty drinks, entrees made with locally grown foods and wonderful fresh bakery, it is a wonderful addition to our downtown. With all her hard work and determination in making her dream a success, Little Fat Gretchen’s is well deserving of the 2016 Small Business of the Year,” Schulz said.

Halverson appreciates the community support her business receives.

“I still love it. I still love being here,” she said. “I look forward to it every day.”

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