Betty's Pies is evicted from Mahtomedi home

  • Article by: TIM HARLOW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 22, 2011 - 10:05 PM

Dec. 31 is the last day. Two Harbors store will stay open.

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Betty's Pies in Mahtomedi.

Photo: Joey Mcleister, Star Tribune

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Saddened by the news that Betty's Pies is being evicted from its Mahtomedi store, its owner said, some customers have offered to help pay the rent to keep the eatery open.

They may not have known the place was more than $280,000 in arrears.

On Wednesday, a Washington County judge signed a motion that will force the famous restaurant to close on Dec. 31 and vacate its home in the Wedgewood Village Shopping Center at 700 Wildwood Road.

"It's a bummer," said co-owner Martha Sieber. "We have great customers. A couple even wanted to pay off the note."

Betty's Pies has been a popular North Shore destination for decades, but the Mahtomedi store was its first venture into the metro area. The closing will not affect the flagship operation in Two Harbors, Minn., which will remain open and honor gift certificates that were sold at the Mahtomedi store, Sieber said.

About 25 to 30 employees will be laid off, Sieber said.

Sieber said Betty's had been paying reduced rent based on a verbal agreement with the building's previous landlord. That developer went belly up and Bank Mutual took over the building in the fall. The bank said Betty's owed $281,416.79, according to an eviction complaint filed this month in Washington County District Court.

The Mahtomedi store had struggled since a drugstore and other tenants left the shopping center. That resulted in fewer customers.

With the Two Harbors store supporting the Mahtomedi store, Sieber and co-owner Carl Ehlenz had already decided to close the Mahtomedi store after the holidays. The eviction notice cinched that decision.

"It wasn't making money, but we were trying to keep it open as long as we could and maintain employment [for our workers]," Sieber said. "It would be nice to see things turn around, but it's not likely to happen in that location."

Sieber has not ruled out opening another metro-area location, but said she won't do anything "until the dust settles."

Tim Harlow • 651-925-5039 Twitter: @timstrib

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