Anoka will be working with downtown business the Mad Hatter to relocate the popular tea room to the historic Woodbury House.
The Mad Hatter was one of three proposals for public use of the Woodbury House recently reviewed by the Anoka City Council.
The city purchased the Ferry Street home from Anoka’s Housing and Redevelopment Authority in the spring.
While it could have been resold as a single-family home, the council was interested in looking at different uses for the historic property.
In July, Anoka asked for proposals for public uses of the Woodbury House. All three that came in were for restaurants, according to Planning Director Carolyn Braun.
At earlier work sessions the city had heard from the Mad Hatter owners Liz and Tim Koch as well as Lea Johnson, who wanted to make the Woodbury House home a fine dining restaurant. Johnson and her husband own Little Havana tobacco shop on Jackson Street and she has experience in the restaurant industry.
The third request for proposal was submitted by Gayle Fjerstad of Rogers, also interested in having a restaurant at the Ferry Street home.
But the council has chosen to work with the established local business.
In June, Liz Koch said the Mad Hatter was outgrowing its current space in the old post office building on Main Street. She and Tim had been looking at other communities for possible relocation.
But Koch said they became very interested when they heard the Woodbury House could become available. Along with tea service, she would also like to add fine dining to the Mad Hatter’s menu Thursday through Saturday, along with a Sunday brunch.
While the city is working with the Kochs, there’s nothing official in place.
“There are a lot of things that need to be done before the city would enter into an agreement,” Braun said.
City staff are currently investigating the repairs that will be needed and the costs involved in order for the Mad Hatter to move into the Woodbury House.
The house has been through foreclosure and is vacant. It would also need some electrical upgrades in order to operate as a restaurant, Braun said.
She said the city also needs to keep in mind how easy it would be to turn the Woodbury House back into a single-family home, if this public use did not work out.
Mandy Moran Froemming is at firstname.lastname@example.org