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Sweet's is a popular place to eat

By Janet Kubat Willette

Date Modified: 07/24/2013 4:28 PM

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LE ROY, Minn. — The guest book at Sweet's Hotel, Restaurant and Bar is filled with names of people from far and near who've dined at the historic building in downtown Le Roy.

Diners have hailed from Le Roy and Rose Creek, Austin and Owatonna, Brownsdale, Blooming Prairie and Waltham; but there also are signatures from residents of Iowa, New Mexico, Sweden, Arizona, South Carolina, Wisconsin and Puerto Rico.

It seems everyone knows someone from Le Roy, said Lu Overocker, who's run the restaurant and bar since it opened Feb. 1, 2008.

Overocker took some convincing before she came to Sweet's. Rick and Cheryl Lamon, of Lanesboro, own the building and renovated it, with Rick handling building restoration and Cheryl in charge of decor.

She turned down three calls to work at the place and agreed to come take a look when the fourth call came.

"I walked through the front doors and fell in love with it," Overocker said.

She now owns the bar and restaurant. The Lamons continue to own the building, and they split the hotel 50/50. William Sweet built the hotel in 1898.

Sweet's is known for great food and great service, Overocker said. They've won the Taste of Mower County for three years in a row. They serve Windsor chops and have featured soups.

Each year, 12 restaurants are featured at the event, which is a benefit for ARC Mower County, she said.

The three day cooks at Sweet's are well known for soups, Overocker said. Customer favorites include Shirley's chicken and wild rice soup; Sandy's prime rib vegetable beef with rutabagas and dumplings; and Margaret's clam chowder. Margaret works Monday through Friday, and Shirley and Sandy alternate weekends. Last week, a new soup was featured with squash, lima beans, ground beef and wild rice. The cooks like to be creative and introduce new soups and salads, Overocker said.

A full soup and salad bar always is available. Featured salads include potato, pea, macaroni and tossed. Chocolate and tapioca pudding are available and sometimes old-fashioned bread pudding.

Daily noon and nightly specials are offered. Thursday night is Mexican night. The Mexican menu includes burritos, chimichangas, enchiladas, nacho supremes, deep fried tacos and quesadillas.

Friday night is all-you-can-eat fish fish, and Saturday night is all-you-can-eat prime rib. A four-piece honey battered chicken dinner is available any day of the week.

Appetizers, salads, pasta and sandwiches also are on the extensive menu that includes a children's menu. Adult entrees can be ordered child sized.

Sweet's Hotel, Restaurant and Bar has 15 employees, including four generations of Overocker's family.

Her aunt, Helen Johnson, who has 35 years of experience as the dining room manager at Lansing Corners Supper Club, works there, as does her daughter, Sarah Srsen, who was a corporate trainer for Applebee's. Her daughter-in-law, Erin Overocker, is the hotel's housekeeper. Johnson's granddaughter, Anna Hunter, a former Dodge County hockey goalie, is in training at Sweet's.

Overocker, of Rose Creek, has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. For nine years, she had a deli at Austin's Oak Park Mall and she waitressed for 13 years at Lansing Corners Supper Club.

The restaurant seats 78. They've served as many as 262 people on a weekend night. They can do private parties on Sunday nights and during weekdays.

The hotel

The hotel has five Jacuzzi suites and three regular rooms on two upstairs floors. Each room is named and decorated consistent with the name.

The hotel is often full, Overocker said. Some will ride the bike trail to town, eat at the restaurant and stay the night before setting off for home the next morning. If there's a funeral, family reunion, wedding or class reunion, the hotel is booked. Others come for a getaway.

Sweet's Hotel has an intriguing past, Overocker said. Cy Thomson, who embezzled money from Hormel, brought the money to Le Roy. He owned the Sweet's building and Oak Dale Farms. He built an amusement park and pavilion, which was enjoyed by thousands of people, she said.

Sweet's also allegedly is haunted by William's son, Frank, and Frank's wife, Matilda. Several ghost hunters come to the hotel, Overocker said. They are friendly ghosts who talk to the ghost hunters, she said.