Iola Mills’ owners to retire
Fuciks begin search for new owners
By Holly Neumann
Tom and Melody Fucik are beginning their exit strategy from the Iola Mill after 23 years of ownership.
“The hardest part of not owning the mill, will be not owning the mill,” said Tom. “But we have to face medical realities and begin the search for the next owner. It is not going to be an easy sell as we are committed to finding someone who will be as passionate about preserving the mill as we have been It is important to us that our preservation efforts will not have been in vain.”
The couple bought the mill in 1996.
“We fell in love with the property from the moment we saw it,” Tom said. “We were aware that there was no good financial reason for us to buy this property, but we did anyway and we don’t have any regrets. If I had one, it would be that we didn’t buy the property when we were younger.”
They have most enjoyed saving the historic building and realizing their vision of creating a business that utilizes it.
“We are so proud of this building,” he said. “We are pleased to have preserved the mill and to have created a space that will attract people to Iola for years to come.”
The Millstone, a coffee shop that has a sandwich, soup and salad menu along with Italian gelato made on site, opened in 2007.
It later expanded into the mill itself in 2014. and added handmade pizza on Friday and Saturday nights, a live music series on Friday nights in the summer and the ability to host weddings, anniversaries and other functions.
With a teaching and coaching background, the Millstone gave Tom the opportunity to influence the area youth who worked for him, in a fun and friendly atmosphere.
“I’ve had a great deal of satisfaction from working with my staff,” he said. “Helping them make the difficult transition from a high school student to an adult is very gratifying. Some wonderful, bright and talented kids have worked here over the years. Working with the school and junior class to present the ‘Haunted Mill’ annually has also been a great source of joy and satisfaction.”
Now, due to the normal aging process, the couple is finding it increasingly harder to keep up with the property.
An accelerating vision loss for Tom is what makes this decision necessary.
Seven eye surgeries in the last several years, three of which were serious, has left Tom with difficulties focusing, and none of the specialists has been able to predict the rate of decline.
“The right eye is nearly useless and the ‘good one’ is only operating at about 65 percent,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate to have been able to travel quite a bit the last few years, and I’d like to see more of the world while I still can.”
The Mill, Saw Mill Office and stone engine building are all on the National Register of Historic Places.
“We want to make it known that we are looking for an exit,” Tom said. “The normal buyers’ market is not going to cut it. This is not going to be an easy or quick sell.”
To honor their commitments, they will complete a season at a time until new owners are found.
“If we find someone to buy it, we will have to do the transfer in the off season,” Tom said. “And of course I will still be interested and willing to help the new owners.”
They believe they went through the toughest part, which will make it easier for the new owners.
“We have done a lot of work here,” Tom said. “Hopefully, the new owner will keep this project going and show the community and its visitors just how wonderfully unique this property is.”
They will not be selling the adjacent property that currently houses Iola Family Chiropractic, In the Beginning and a rental unit.
“Iola is such a great place and ideally, we would like to still be connected to the community,” said Tom. “This is one way we can do that.”
Tom reflected on his life.
“I am not a rich man, but I have led a rich life. I look back on my life and have done so many things, had so many experiences and have been fortunate enough to see a lot of the world,” he said. “I am always looking forward, however, and I want to see even more while I still can.”