Owner after bartending 17 years

Mandy Vreeman, owner of Miss Green Jeans

By Marcie Klomp

Mandy Vreeman has finally taken the plunge and become owner of her own bar and grill after working for others for 17 years. On Jan. 29, she purchased Missy’s Stein and Dine in Lime Springs from Melissa Bill and renamed it Miss Green Jeans.

The name has some sentimental value to Vreeman. “It was a nickname I had when I first started bartending when I was 18. I wore a pair of green jeans to work and someone called me that and it stuck.”

What also stuck was her desire to work in bar/restaurants. And that experience has helped her make the transition from worker to owner. After 17 years she has seen what works and what doesn’t. She is bringing that knowledge to Miss Green Jeans. But, she also has some help. Good friend Jeff Burnikel is helping in the bar as she helped him when he owned the bar in Granger.

Also helping out is her staff, including Marian Gragert, who cooks the noon meals. The two work together on setting up the menus during the week.

Vreeman said Burnikel and Gragert have been a big help, but “I am so satisfied with my whole staff. They get along and are people-oriented, fun and friendly. I won’t hire anyone who isn’t.”

Vreeman is not afraid to seek help where she can get it. She is utilizing the corporate chef, which is a service of Martin Bros., food distributor.

“He is employed through Martin Bros. and highly schooled. He will help me figure out my menus and gives me recipes.”

She plans on keeping the old menu and adding to it. “I want to add more things like pasta. The chef comes down and shows me how to do it.”

Vreeman knows how hard it is to have a business and make it successful. She wants to make her business stand out. “Anybody can do a burger and fries. I want to set this place apart from the normal bar and grill. I want to have different soups and pastas. I’d like to do a steak night, chop night and prime rib special. Eventually I’d like to make my own pizzas. It’s a work in progress.”

Yes, Vreeman has lots of ideas but she is starting out slow. She has continued Wednesday Beer & Burger night and Taco Thursday, with some changes. She also revamped the Friday night Fish Special.

“I added Icelandic cod. That’s the fish we had in Granger and everybody loved it. So far, I’ve had a lot of compliments,” the new owner said. She makes her own batter and tartar sauce. “The batter is nice and light—not thick, not dense—just a light coating of batter.”

With her signature fish batter and sauce, Vreeman is also working on a salad dressing that will be her own.

Other goals she is working on are making some stuffed burgers and updating the kids’ menu. “I want to be known for my food and friendly atmosphere.”

She plans on bringing back the breakfast buffet, which was a popular item when Jimmy Miller owned the bar. Miller also works for her on Sundays, one of her days off. She also takes Wednesday off to keep her sanity from working so many hours the rest of the week. She is usually working from open until close most other days.

Besides upgrading the menu, Vreeman wants to slowly get some interesting items on her walls. Right now she says they are plain. She is working with fellow businessman Curt Tienter on finding some eye catching objects.

She is also thinking outside the “bar” in other ways. She has already booked the Root River County Club for a “Battle of the Bars” golf tournament in June. This way she is working with other bars in the area and helping out Dennis Langreck, another new business owner, who just purchased the country club.

Vreeman is also looking at helping out the community by sponsoring an event during Sweet Corn Days. (Look for more on this in future issues.)

Hopefully Vreeman can keep her enthusiasm for her new business venture going strong. She’s got the right idea of utilizing the strengths of others and by scratching their backs, maybe the favor will be returned.

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