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The Hitching Post: Fine food, friendly atmosphere
Donny and Stacy Handeland invite Maple Lake-area residents to partake of the fine food and friendly atmosphere to be found at the Hitching Post, conveniently situated between Clearwater and Annandale on Highway 24.
“We’re just nine miles from Maple Lake,” Donny said. “It’s easier access than people might think. We’re on the Wright County Snowmobile Trail, too.”
His brother, Tom, who also runs a similar establishment in Marshall, took ownership of the former Lake Center Bar and Grill in April 2011. As general manager and head chef, Donny is happy to report that the Hitching Post has experienced steady growth ever since.
“We’re very happy with the progress we’ve made here,” he said. “It’s a busy place, and we have the finest food around.”
Grill and Bar
While the sign outside reads “Bar & Grill,” Donny says the Hitching Post’s primary focus is on its food. Having been in the restaurant business since the late ’70s, he and his brother have benefited from nearly four decades of industry experience. Donny – who got his start in Minneapolis, cooking at such noted eateries as the Hyatt Regency Hotel and Lincoln Del – is proud to offer a diverse menu that includes everything from gourmet sandwiches and burgers to chicken, seafood and steak entrees. Not one to rest on his laurels, he and his staff are constantly tweaking their menu, with new items being added on a regular basis.
“We have a reputation for making excellent food,” he said. “All of our dressings, all of our sauces, soups and slaw are homemade.”
And though the Hitching Post is relatively new to this area, it has already made its epicurean mark, with its blue-ribbon spare ribs taking first place at Taste of Buffalo two years in a row, in 2011 and 2012.
A well-rounded staff of about 20 employees adds its own elements of warmth and personality to the Hitching Post, providing great food with great service.
“Our staff is really good,” said Donny. “They’re excellent. There’s just no comparison.”
His wife, Stacy, manages the wait staff and handles administrative duties.
“She pays the bills, waits on customers, tends bar, whatever needs doing around here,” Donny said. “She does everything she has to, to make the place run smoothly.”
Every night is special
At the Hitching Post, every night is special in its own right, with a Happy Hour from 4-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, ribs on Wednesday, Mexican Night Thursday with specials on margaritas and Dos Equis (also Ladies Night), and meat raffles every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. On Tuesday nights, drop in to play Keys for Cash, a free-to-play progressive jackpot with a drawing at 7:30 p.m. As an added attraction, the Handelands also hope to start a Sunday Bingo game in coming weeks.
Groups are always welcome, too. The Hitching Post is happy to host the Clearwater Lions and two snowmobile clubs on a regular basis, as well as many parties and celebrations. Catering service is available, as well, either pickup or onsite, for backyard barbecues, weddings, grad parties and more. And keep an eye out for special events this summer, as the Hitching Post’s ample parking lot transforms into the perfect venue for music and other outdoor activities.
Tastefully decorated with antique artifacts, the Hitching Post offers a cozy, rustic ambiance that’s also clean and family-friendly.
“Without a doubt,” Donny said, “this is a family place. Kids are more than welcome here.”
The Hitching Post can be found at 10480 State Hwy. 24 NW. Kitchen hours are 4-9 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call 274-5400.
HP1 - Stacy and Donny Handeland (center), with employees Tracy Rapinac, Ashley Gries, Casey Poirier and Josh Glunz, stand ready to welcome Maple Lake-area residents to the Hitching Post.
HP2 - The Hitching Post is conveniently situated between Clearwater and Annandale on Hwy. 24.